Sandy AdkinsCommunications SpecialistNational Center for State Courts757.259.1515
Williamsburg, Va. (Nov. 11, 2010) — Throughout the U.S. today, ceremonies, parades, and other special events are taking place to honor the nation's war veterans. But every day, a growing number of our country's state courts are recognizing veterans in a very different and significant way — by establishing specialized courts and programs designed to address the social and legal issues associated with servicemen and women.
Currently at least 20 states have veterans courts: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. At least 10 other states are considering the issue either through studies or proposed legislation.
The first veterans court opened in Buffalo, N.Y., in 2008, and is based on drug treatment and/or mental health courts, with substance-abuse or mental-health treatment offered as an alternative to incarceration. Veteran mentors also are critical to the success of the program. (For more on the background of and need for veterans courts, see today's op-ed in The New York Times by Pennsylvania Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille.)
Even in states that do not currently have veterans courts, the legal community is addressing veterans' needs in a variety of innovative ways.
In addition, there are a number of non-court-related programs that are helping either provide veterans with an alternative to jail or are assisting with re-entry following incarceration.
For more information on the nation's veterans courts, see the National Center for State Courts' Veterans Court Resource Guide.
The NCSC Backgrounder is designed to provide the media with statistics and facts related to current issues of interest.
The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Va., is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation's state courts.