Thursday, June 30, 2011
This link takes you to the Prison Reform Trust Bromley Briefings Prison Fact File. All you need to be up to date with the facts on prisons in England and Wales.
The US State Court system is increasingly recognising the growing number of military veterans who, following combat trauma, are entering the justice system. Aganist this background new proceedures are being introduced to support and divert veteran offenders. Courts are now focussing upon rehabilitating veterans through positive case management instead of jailing them.
Recognising the UK's Military Covenant, I am left wondering how long it will be before similar initiatives are introduced in the UK?
The following report by Rick Rogers - For the North County Times North County Times | Posted: Friday, January 21, 2011 12:00 am outlines the situation in San Diago.
With a stroke of his pen Wednesday, Superior Court presiding Judge Kevin Enright approved what's technically known as the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, a pilot program born of years of planning and consensus building.
The first cases are set for Feb. 4 in San Diego before Judge Roger W. Krauel, a Vietnam veteran who spent 35 years in uniform. A San Diego judge since 199l, Krauel will spend one day a week concentrating on veterans' cases from across the county.
"It is another positive step to addressing a real problem in our community," Krauel said of the voluntary program that primarily targets Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma or substance abuse issues who run afoul of the law.
"This pilot will help us start sorting out the best ways to serve the public safety while bringing veterans who have offended back into the law-abiding community," said Krauel.
The county and its estimated 235,000 veterans will now join Santa Ana, Tulsa, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and dozens of places nationwide running courts focused on rehabilitating veterans through aggressive case management instead of jailing them.
The largest numbers of Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans anywhere in the country live in San Diego County, an estimated 30,000.
In recent years, increasing numbers of them have landed in county jails for what's been described as "impulse crimes" such as drunk driving, spouse and child abuse, barroom brawls and resisting arrest.
So many, in fact, that San Diego County now has upwards of 150 young veterans enmeshed in the criminal justice system and another 400 of all ages either in jail or facing charges.
San Diego attorney Jude Litzenberger has co-chaired the legal task force to establish the veteran diversion program since 2007. She said the calendar is good news for veterans and the public alike.
"Right now, the judges are seeing veterans in a number of San Diego County courtrooms," she said. "This is a good opportunity to consolidate those cases in order to do the kind of monitoring and mentoring that's been shown to both remove veterans from criminality while ensuring a safer community.
"If you send someone to DUI school when they need to go to PTSD counseling, you are doing a disservice to both the veteran and the public."
Litzenberger said the pending veterans treatment program won't be easy, but if successfully completed, it could wipe the slate clean for troubled veterans.
Take driving under the influence of alcohol, for example. Someone arrested on a first-time DUI can expect to pay $2,000 in fines, draw five years of unsupervised probation, attend 32 hours of alcohol education and agree to take a Breathalyzer test at any time.
Someone admitted into Veterans Treatment Review Calendar must comply with all of the above, plus undergo exposure therapy for PTSD, agree to drug and alcohol testing and have regular contact with a probation officer.
Buffalo Judge Robert Russell started the first veterans' court in January 2008. A hybrid of existing specialty courts ---- such as domestic violence court, mental health court and drug court ---- veterans' court has been a striking success.
Of 120 veterans enrolled in Russell's program, 90 percent successfully completed the program ---- and the recidivism rate is zero.
Below are key provisions of the Veterans Treatment Review Calendar:
-- A defendant will be assigned to the VTRC based on the recommendations of the prosecutor and defense lawyer, and supporting information from the probation department and agencies providing assessment and treatment.
-- All of the programs of the San Diego Court are open to defendants who are on active duty, including the VTRC. In certain circumstances, military procedures allow for military sanctions to be imposed in addition to whatever a civilian court does. Where there is military jurisdiction over a crime, it is up to the prosecutor whether a case is also filed in state court.
-- The VTRC will have the power to review cases already adjudicated. To do this, attorneys would make a joint recommendation to the criminal court judge conducting the probation hearing and sentencing of the defendant; or to the judge reviewing, post-sentence, the performance of probation.
Defense attorneys interested in the new program should contact Litzenberger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put "VTRC Inquiry" in the subject line for a faster response.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Latest news on the criminal justice system, sentencing policy, prisons and life after jail | Society | guardian.co.uk
It is to be hoped that the Government's Revolution in Prison Reform and Sentencing will indeed be delivered.
Monday, June 27, 2011
In this moving You Tube flim, Martin Bell OBE highlights the damaging impact of Combat Related PTSD, including how, for many, it often leads to enprisonment. The human and fincancial costs are disturbing. If we are serious as a nation about supporting the Military Covenant, we must surely take more action to address veteran mental health issues.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
For those leading busy lives, this briefing provides a clear outline of the Government's 'Breaking the Cycle' report and is commended for its succinct and clear presentation.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This important work by the NHS and partners is clearly to be welcomed. It is to be hoped that similar support will also be offered to those Veterans who, often as a result of mental health issues following combat experience, end up entering the Justice System.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
New three sector consortium to help deliver criminal justice services - Press releases - Media centre - Nacro, the crime reduction charity
At last, the momentum for meaningful cross sector partnerships appears to be growing with an acknowledgement that different organisations can and do bring different skills to help reduce re-offending and that by working together the outcomes can be more effective.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Further evidence that RJ can have a positive impact upon the reduction of re-offending and the type and level of offending.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Western Australia is leading with new interventions to reduce re-offending.
Well done Cheshire Police; more evidence to show that RJ is a powerful and appropriate way of reducing re-offending. Yet, there is still a reluctance by many to engage in the process. Is it that the Justice System and Society are afraid to admit that punitive measures are not effective and that there are better ways? The reality is clear, until we pursue a process that serves to change the thoughts and feelings of offenders, their behaviour will remain unchanged. Punishment re-enforces existing negative thoughts and feelings whilst RJ serves to help promote positive change.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Remembering what our troops and their families endure on our behalf!
Yet many are leaving the military with various levels of Mental Health problems, only to experience family breakup, homelessness, alcohol and drug issues and ending up in prison or on probation. These were once proud men, willing to give their lives for their country; is this how we are to repay them?
To reduce re-offending by military veterans, they deserve a purpose designed programme of support and rehabilitation. We rightly deliver such programmes for those with physical injuries, now we must deliver for those with mental injuries and loss.
The Veterans Change Partnership is aiming to provide such support. More information can be seen at - http://www.lifechangeuk.com/supporting-the-military-covenant/
If you also support this view, please tell others.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
Re-offending rates have remained the same for years, costing the tax payer billions of pounds every year. If an offender's thoughts and feelings remain unchanged, so will his or her behaviour. It is the same for us all. To achieve change we need an environment that helps to promote it; a Prison regime is simply not conducive.