Proos: Senate approves Veterans Treatment Courts

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LANSING —The framework for a new court that would combine treatment for drug abuse and mental health issues for Michigan’s military veterans was approved Tuesday by the state Senate, said Sen. John Proos.

“On Tuesday, the Senate held a moment of silence to honor the brave men and women who died on 9/11 and then voted to help the veterans who risked their lives to protect our freedoms,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Veterans treatment courts will serve veterans struggling with addiction and mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress. These courts are about assisting veterans who get in trouble with the law by treating conditions that are often the result of their service to our nation.”

Under House Bills 5159 and 5162, a circuit and district court could establish a veterans treatment court that would be a hybrid of the current drug and mental health courts. The new court would promote sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response of the courts, professionals and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Proos has been active in creating new, efficient ways to address and treat offenders. He initiated the “Swift and Sure” program, which allows county court systems to set up programs of sanctions on eligible probationers. According to the Pew Center on the States, this same program in Hawaii resulted in probationers being 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime and 72 percent less likely to use drugs.

“Our veterans have put our country’s preservation before their own lives to preserve our freedoms, and we owe them a great debt,” Proos said. “These courts are about giving them a helping hand through troubled times by working to treat the symptoms instead of just punishing the individual. It is also important to note that there are eligibility restrictions for this new court, including prohibiting violent offenders.”

The legislation would require a veterans treatment court to maintain jurisdiction over a participant until a case is through the system and require the State Drug Treatment Court Advisory Committee to monitor the effectiveness of veterans treatment courts and present annual recommendations regarding them to the Legislature and Supreme Court.

The bills have been approved by the House of Representatives and are now on their way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.

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Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.” 

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