New Data Shows Veterans Treatment Court Surge

Over 13,000 Veterans Now in Treatment Instead of Behind Bars

Justice For Vets is pleased to present new data confirming the expansion of Veterans Treatment Courts nationwide. According to Justice For Vets, the number of Veterans Treatment Courts increased by 28% between 2013 and 2014, with hundreds more in the planning stages.

  • There are 264 Veterans Treatment Courts operating in 37 states and one U.S. territory (Guam).
  • Veterans Treatment Courts are serving an estimated 13,200 veterans who would otherwise be incarcerated.
  • Nearly 3,000 veterans are currently serving as volunteer mentors in Veterans Treatment Courts.
  • Listing by state as of December 2014: Alabama (13), Alaska (1), Arizona (9), Arkansas (4), California (20), Colorado (4), Connecticut (0), Delaware (3), DC (0), Florida (19), Georgia (8),Guam (1), Hawaii (2), Idaho (4), Illinois (15), Indiana (13), Iowa (0), Kansas (0), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (5), Maine (0), Maryland (0), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (22), Minnesota (12), Mississippi (3), Missouri (8), Montana (2), Nebraska (0), Nevada (3), New Hampshire (0), New Jersey (0), New Mexico (1), New York (2), North Carolina (2), North Dakota, (0), Ohio (15), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (4), Pennsylvania, (17), Puerto Rico (0), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (2), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (3), Texas (19), Utah (0), Vermont (0), Virginia (0), Virgin Islands (0), Washington (8), West Virginia (0), Wisconsin (9), Wyoming (1)

“Veterans Treatment Courts are spreading across the country because they work and because there is an urgent and growing need,” said Justice For Vets Senior Director Melissa Fitzgerald. “The vast majority of veterans are strengthened by their military service, but not everyone’s journey home is the same. Too many veterans are entering the justice system due to substance abuse, mental health conditions or trauma. Across the nation communities are stepping up to connect these veterans to the treatment and services they have earned. Veterans Treatment Courts are saving lives, reducing crime and saving taxpayer dollars. They are criminal justice reform in action.”

Veterans Treatment Courts are recognized as the most innovative and successful approach for diverting veterans suffering from substance abuse and/or a mental health condition away from incarceration and into treatment. These veterans-only court dockets combine structure, rigorous treatment and peer mentoring from volunteer veteran mentors to connect veterans in crisis with local, state and federal benefits.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health conditions common among veterans can directly lead to involvement in the criminal justice system. An estimated 1 in 5 veterans has symptoms of a mental health issue or cognitive impairment and 1 in 6 veterans from Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom suffers from a substance abuse issue. The most recent data from the Department of Justice shows an estimated 700,000 veterans are involved with the justice system.

In February, the Community Mental Health Journal released the first published study on Veterans Treatment Court finding that veterans participating in Veterans Treatment Court experienced significant improvement with depression, PTSD and substance abuse as well as with critical social issues including housing, emotional well-being, relationships, and overall functioning. The study also found that mentoring from volunteer veterans is particularly effective. Veterans who receive mentoring not only experience better clinical outcomes, they report feeling more socially connected.