Veterans Court

 
     

Mission Statement

The mission of the Thurston County Veterans Court is to serve the community and increase public safety by monitoring, supporting and holding accountable justice-involved individuals with mental illness in accessing treatment and improving their quality of life. We treat each participant with respect and dignity, thus empowering them to make positive changes in their life.

"Supporting those who have defended us." - Judge Brett Buckley

Thurston County Veterans Court is modeled after Thurston County’s Mental Health Court. The inaugural hearing was held on July 22, 2009 at 3:00 p.m. Court hearings are every Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. and are open to the public.

Eligibility

Veterans Court is intended to serve veterans or active duty military personnel involved in the Thurston County criminal justice system who meet specific criteria. Among the factors considered for entry in Veterans Court are:

  • Mental health diagnosis (required)
  • Low to medium objective risk assessment score
  • Nexus between diagnosis and charge
  • Connection between diagnosis and military service
  • Motivation to make lifestyle changes
  • Eligibility for VA Healthcare or able to engage in military or community treatment services
  • Victim advocacy – especially in DV cases
  • Open criminal case in Thurston County, City of Lacey or City of Tumwater jurisdiction

Referral Process

Referrals are made to veterans court, through the court process or informally. Once the referral is made:

  • Defense and Prosecution are Notified
  • Defendant is placed on Waiting List, if there is one
  • Client to contact Veterans Court Program Manager to schedule an assessment
  • The case will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team for entry into Veterans Court, including the Veterans Court Judge, Prosecuting and Defense Attorneys, Veterans Court clinical staff, Washington Department of Veteran Affairs Representative, Domestic Violence Victim Advocate, Work Source Veterans Employment Specialist, Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator and appropriate Treatment Providers.
  • If defendant is denied entry to Veterans Court, the case goes back to regular court calendar
  • If accepted, defendant is to observe a full Veterans Court calendar and provide a negative UA.
  • Consult attorney for informed decision
  • Defendant will then sign a Veterans Court contract and enter Veterans Court.

Staffing

All cases are subject to additional staffing on each court date. The purpose of the staffing is to address and monitor compliance with the recommended supervision plan for the client. The staffing is attended by:

  • Veterans Court Judge
  • Veterans Court Program Manager
  • Veterans Court Prosecuting Attorney
  • Veterans Court Defense Attorney
  • Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator
  • Washington Department of Veteran Affairs Representative
  • Domestic Violence Victim Advocate
  • Work Source Veterans’ Employment Specialist, when available

Community Monitoring

The client returns to court weekly, or until such time the clinical staff and Judge agree that a lengthier amount of time between court appearances is appropriate, based upon compliance and treatment progress. The Veterans Court Clinical Staff provides intensive monitoring services to ensure each participant is compliant with treatment and other court obligations. The Washington Department of Veteran Affairs Representative and the Veterans Justice Outreach Coordinator are available as resources for the veteran participants to ensure each veteran has the ability to follow through with appointments, has access to medication, adequate housing, and transportation, as well as other needed services.

**If a client is not compliant, a Violation Report is written and discussed at staffing for appropriate sanctioning.

Veterans Court Benefits

To the Community:

  • Reduced costs to the community resulting from court and jail overcrowding
  • Reduced criminal activity within the community
  • Increased contribution to the community from program participants

To the Defendant:

  • Improved Health
  • Reduced/Avoided Incarceration
  • Frequent Case Review
  • Benefit Application Assistance
  • Organizational Assistance
  • Sense of Community
  • Dismissal of Charge(s)

If you would like more information about the Thurston County Veterans Court, please call the Veterans Court Program Manager at 360-867-2034.

Links to Resources