A state task force is considering expanding special court programs into a new Veteran’s Court. Veteran’s courts across the country offer substance abuse help, mental health treatments and other special programs to offenders who have served in the military. For many vets, it’s a welcome alternative to spending time behind bars. Richard Schwermer is the Utah Problem Solving Courts Coordinator. He says help provided by a proposed state veteran’s court would offer a more long-term solution to offenders who are vets.
“It doesn’t make sense to have a revolving door of criminal conduct, jail, criminal conduct if we know the criminal conduct is caused by substance abuse or mental health,” he says.
Two veteran’s court programs are already running out of the Salt Lake City Justice Court and the Salt Lake City federal court system. Schwermer acknowledges the success of the programs and says the state court would be even larger and more comprehensive.
“We’ve dipped our toe in the water in the justice court and in the federal court and now we’re talking about jumping in with the court in the state system," he says.
Schwermer hopes his proposed state veterans court will have the approval and funding needed to open early next year.