Miami-Dade County, which has started a new court program designed for veterans with drug problems, joins a growing nationwide movement of courts for veterans.
The courts are meant to allow veterans to avoid jail or prison. Instead, they enter intense drug rehabilitation that is monitored by the court, the Miami Herald reports. According to the article, Miami Veterans Court is the 69th such court in the United States. They are currently running in 24 states. The first one was started in Buffalo, NY, three years ago in response to the growing number of service men and women with substance abuse problems who ran into trouble with the law after serving in the Middle East.
In Miami-Dade County, Veterans Court candidates have been arrested for minor drug buying or possession offenses and do not have violent or extensive criminal histories. As with the county’s regular Drug Court, defendants are enrolled in treatment programs, face random drug testing and report monthly to the judge. If they fail repeated drug tests, they will be jailed.
They will also meet with a psychologist and outreach coordinator with the Miami Veteran’s Affairs office, who will connect them with VA-sponsored substance abuse treatment, vocational training and housing programs. The veterans will also be assigned mentors.