The Harris County Veterans' Court Program is evaluating the diversion of an initial group of twenty veterans charged with non-violent misdemeanor and felony offenses directly into treatment at the MEDVAMC and the potential positive impact of reducing jail time, cost of incarceration, and criminal recidivism while improving mental health recovery and successful re-entry into the community. The Veterans' Court was developed in collaboration with multiple community partners: Harris County Judge Marc Carter of the 228th Criminal Court, along with representatives from the, STAR Court, Harris County Attorney's Office, Harris County District Attorney's Office, MHMRA, Harris County Pretrial Services, Harris County Community Supervision and Corrections Department, Harris County Criminal Lawyers' Association, US Vets, Salvation Army Harbor Lights, City of Houston, VA Regional Office, and Veterans Service Organizations.
The primary goals of the VC program include: 1) Improving access to needed mental health and addictions treatment for jailed veterans; 2) Reducing criminal recidivism through successful treatment outcomes and community reintegration; 3) Improving long-term mental health recovery and community reintegration through involvement in structured, comprehensive treatment; 4) Reducing jail time and resolving felony charges related primarily to mental health, TBI and addiction issues; and 5) Reducing costs associated with unnecessary incarceration.
ELIGIBILITY Defendant must meet the following criteria: Honorable Discharge or general discharge (under honorable conditions), on active duty or in reserves Have pending eligible felony offense Be a legal resident of/or citizen of the United States of America Be a resident of Harris and/or surrounding Counties Have mental health, TBI, and/or substance use diagnoses that is related to the criminal offense Be eligible for VA services
- Pending case is either;
- Sexual offenses,
- drug delivery or
- all 3G offenses with the exception of aggravated assault.
- Prior conviction or deferred adjudication for sexual assault or 3G offense with the exception of aggravated assault.
- Is seriously and persistently mentally ill and cannot participate
- Has previously been terminated or graduated from Veterans' Court