Model Local Administrative Order 39 - Plan for the
Establishment of a Veterans’ Treatment Court Program (Rev. 04/13)
[LOCAL COURT LETTERHEAD]
Administrative Order [year] - [number]
ORDER FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A VETERANS’ TREATMENT COURT
IT IS ORDERED: The purpose of this order is to establish a veterans’ treatment court in [insert court number and court type] upon approval by the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). All policies and procedures comply with 10 Key Components for a veterans’ treatment court, a copy of which is attached (Attachment A).
The court has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with each participating county prosecuting attorney in the circuit or district court district, a representative of the criminal defense bar, a representative of community treatment providers, and other key parties. The Memorandum of Understanding shall describe the role of each party. The Memorandum of Understanding is attached (Attachment B).
The court has established eligibility criteria as part of Attachment B. Any statement or other information obtained as a result of participating in a substance abuse or mental health assessment shall be deemed confidential and shall not be used in any criminal prosecution against the veteran.
No participant shall be admitted until a complete preadmission screening, and substance abuse and/or mental health assessment are completed.
All participants shall sign a voluntary written consent to participate in the program.
The court shall maintain case files in compliance with General Records Retention and Disposal Schedule #16 – Michigan Trial Courts, the Michigan Case File Management Standards, and Part 2 of Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations to assure confidentiality of drug treatment court records.
The 10 Key Components of Veterans’ Treatment Courts Key Component #1: Veterans’ treatment courts integrate alcohol and drug treatment, and mental services with justice system case processing.
Veterans’ Treatment Court promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated response to a veteran’s dependency on alcohol, drugs, and/or management of his/her mental illness. Realization of these goals requires a team approach. This approach includes the cooperation and collaboration of the traditional partners found in drug treatment courts and mental health treatment courts with the addition of the Veterans Administration, support organizations for veterans and their families, as well as volunteer veteran mentors.
Key Component #2: Using a nonadversarial approach, prosecution and defense counsel promote public safety while protecting participants’ due process rights.
To facilitate the veteran’s progress in treatment, the prosecutor and defense counsel work together as a team. Once a veteran is accepted into the treatment court program, the team’s focus is on the veteran’s recovery and law-abiding behavior, not on the merits of the pending case.
Key Component #3: Eligible participants are identified early and promptly placed in the veterans’ court program.
Early identification of veterans entering the criminal justice system is a vital part of the process of placement in the ICTVC. Arrest can be a traumatic event in a person’s life. It creates an immediate crisis and can force recognition of inappropriate behavior out into the open. This assists the veteran in realizing there is a need for treatment.
Key Component #4: The veterans’ treatment court provides access to a continuum of alcohol, drug, mental health, and other related treatment and rehabilitation services.
While primarily concerned with criminal activity, alcohol and other drug use, and mental illness, the treatment court team also considers co-occurring problems such as medical problems, transmittable diseases, homelessness, basic educational deficits, unemployment, poor job preparation, spouse and family troubles, and the ongoing effects of war-time trauma.
Key Component #5: Abstinence is monitored by frequent alcohol and other drug testing.
Frequent court-ordered alcohol and other drug testing is essential. An accurate testing program is the most objective and efficient way to establish a framework for accountability and to gauge each defendant’s progress.
Key Component #6: A coordinated strategy governs veterans’ treatment court responses to participants’ compliance.
A veteran’s progress through the treatment court is measured by his or her compliance with the treatment regimen. The program rewards cooperation as well as responds to noncompliance. The program establishes a coordinated strategy, including a continuum of graduated responses, to continuing drug use and other noncompliant behavior.
Key Component #7: Ongoing judicial interaction with each veteran is essential.
The judge is the leader of the veterans’ treatment court team. This active, supervising relationship increases the likelihood that a veteran will remain in treatment and improves the chances for sobriety and law-abiding behavior. Ongoing judicial supervision also communicates to veterans that someone in authority cares about them and is closely watching what they do.
Key Component #8: Monitoring and evaluation measure the achievement of program goals and gauge effectiveness.
Management and monitoring systems provide timely and accurate information about program progress. Program monitoring provides oversight and measurements of the program’s performance against its stated goals and objectives. Information and conclusions developed from periodic monitoring reports, process evaluation activities, and longitudinal evaluation studies may be used to modify the program.
All veterans’ treatment court staff should be involved in education and training. Interdisciplinary education exposes criminal justice officials to veteran treatment issues. In addition, VA employees, veteran volunteer mentors, and treatment staff are exposed to criminal justice issues. It also develops shared understandings of the values, goals, and operating procedures of the VA, treatment, and the justice system components.
Education and training programs help maintain a high level of professionalism and provide a forum for solidifying relationships among the veterans’ treatment court stakeholders. A spirit of collaboration and commitment is also promoted.
Key Component #10: Forging partnerships among the court, VA, public agencies, and community-based organizations generates local support and enhances program effectiveness.
Because of its unique position in the criminal justice system, a veterans’ treatment court is well-suited to develop collaborations among community-based organizations, criminal justice agencies, the VA, support organizations for veterans and their families, and treatment delivery systems. Forming such collaborations expands the continuum of services available to defendants and informs the community about veterans’ treatment court concepts.
ATTACHMENT B [Insert Court Name] Veterans’ Treatment Court
Memorandum of Understanding *The following is intended as a sample structure the court may wish to use in drafting a Memorandum of Understanding. If the court wishes to use different language, the MOU should be inserted here as a referenced attachment. Mission Insert mission statement here.
Vision Establish a specialty court which will identify those defendants who served or are serving in the United States Armed Forces to:
List objectives here
Structure of the Veterans’ Treatment Court This section should include information on case type and from which courts cases can be drawn (if more than one). It should also include language as to defendants’ status with the Armed Forces (currently serving and/or veterans).
By design, this specialty court will provide defendants with a structure within which to obtain the necessary treatment and feedback to minimize the likelihood of future criminal court involvement. And important note is that the structure of this court is highly interactive. This ensures that all those invested in the process have access to each other and share information and treatment goals toward one end: help the veteran succeed.
The person with the key role in this entire process is the veteran. His or her individual success is the overriding goal of this problem-solving court. The veteran’s investment and partnership in this process is vital to his or her success.
Identification of Veterans This section should include language on how the court, local law enforcement, and local prosecutors have agreed to identify veterans who may be eligible for the program. The goal is to develop a process that allows for the earliest possible entry into the treatment court.
Entry into the Veterans’ Treatment Court Insert case referral, case processing, and sentencing information here. This section will be very specific to the individual program.
Logistics of Veterans’ Treatment Court Sessions Again, this section will be very specific to the individual program. This section should include information on the timing of sessions, staff meetings, who should attend court sessions and staff meetings, and structure of the formal court sessions.
Eligibility – Personal Insert eligibility language here. This should include veteran status and/or a person who is currently serving in the armed forces. Geographic restrictions, if any, should be included. This section should also include information on how candidates’ eligibility will be reviewed and what criteria will be used.
Eligibility – Charge(s) Insert eligibility language here. If specific, enumerated offenses are excluded from eligibility for treatment court, they should be listed in an appendix.
Plea Bargaining and Case Processing Policies Information on how the court will handle pleas, special probationary status, charge reductions, and/or case dismissals. This language will be specific to the individual court, prosecutor, and defense counsel and how they choose to operate.
Probation Overview This section should describe how probation will be handled in the Veterans’ Treatment Court. The section should include standard probation conditions the defendant will be required to follow.
Reviews Insert information on case management reviews and court reviews. Scheduling, timing, and frequency should be included.
Funding Insert funding information here, including any 501(c)(3) funding sources.
Evaluation and Data Collection Insert evaluation and data collection information here.