Charlie Crist is teaming up with California Republican Congressman Jeff Denham on a bipartisan bill to provide federal resources for the establishment of new treatment courts for military veterans in the criminal justice system.
The St. Petersburg Democrat is signing onto Veterans Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2017, which establishes a program within the Department of Justice, in coordination with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to provide grants, training, and technical assistance to help state, local, and tribal governments develop and maintain veterans treatment courts.
Currently, supporting these programs are officials in law enforcement, the judicial system, the legal community, VA officials, veterans service organizations, and other community organizations.
“We owe our veterans the very best care and service, but too often their unique needs and challenges are not met by the traditional criminal justice system,” Crist said. “By bringing federal resources to this issue, we can help more veterans in difficult situations get back on their feet and thrive.”
“With Veterans Day on the horizon, it is important to take this opportunity to not only thank our veteran but also take steps toward giving back to those who have worn the cloth of this nation,” Denham said. “Making it easier to set up veteran treatment courts across the nation will help keep veterans in crisis out of the criminal justice system and give them the help they need and deserve.”
Veterans treatment courts have been in existence for less than a decade. The first was created in 2008 in Buffalo, New York.
Since then, state and local courts throughout Florida and the nation adopted additional courts.
In 2013, Florida’s 6th Judicial Circuit Court created a veterans unit to address the unique needs of those in Pinellas and Pasco counties, which is home to more than 130,000 veterans.