Veterans Complete Program As Alternative To Incarceration
Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown today joined members of the judiciary and others in attending the first graduation ceremony of the Queens County Veterans’ Court.
Brown said, “Our returning veterans deserve not only our gratitude and our praise, but our support, as well. Many of them have witnessed firsthand the horror and devastation that war brings – and some have, unfortunately, brought back with them deep emotional and psychological scars as a result of their experiences.
“In setting up the Veterans’ Court in Queens County last year, the goal was to assist veterans and their families by helping to ensure that when they are in need of alcohol and substance abuse counseling or mental health services – and become involved in the criminal justice system – that they receive the needed treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Today, we have gathered to witness the graduation of the first five veterans who successfully completed the program’s requirements and [are now] afforded a second opportunity to be productive members of society. I am very proud of our Veterans’ Court – and our other alternative to incarceration programs – and what they have accomplished.”
Among those also attending today’s graduation ceremony was Administrative Judge of the Criminal Term of Queens Supreme Court Justice Fernando M. Camacho, Presiding Judge of the Queens Veterans’ Court Judge Marcia P. Hirsch, Chief Policy and Planning New York State Courts Justice Judy Harris Kluger and Professor of Constitutional Law at Touro Law School and former Chief Judge of New York state Honorable Sol Wachtler.
The Veterans’ Court identifies nonviolent veteran offenders and provides outreach, specialized support services and treatment in an attempt to divert them from incarceration; offers peer support to sustain engagement in services; and facilitates the exchange of information between legal, clinical and community resources. Since it was established in December 2010, nearly 40 otherwise jail-bound veterans have been diverted through the Queens Veterans Court.