Court starts special court program for veterans


BATON ROUGE, La. – The 19th Judicial Court is taking a different approach to prosecuting veterans, and they hope it will keep a lot of them out of prison who should not be there.

There are a few other veteran treatment courts in Louisiana, but none of them are in Baton Rouge or our neighboring parishes.

Some combat duty veterans go off to serve our country, only to come back to the United States with crippling disabilities, mental health issues or even addictions that may lead to crimes.

The 19th Judicial District Court is establishing a specialty court that will take those things into consideration.

“This gives them an alternative track mainly because of what they have suffered and experienced while serving this country,” said Ronald Johnson, 19th JDC Judge.

Unlike other specialty courts that deal with general drug abuse or alcohol addictions, this is specifically for veterans.

Usually, veterans would go through the same criminal justice process that many of our citizens go through in this community but often the mental health and the substance abuse troubles are not typically considered in the manner that they should be,” says Julie Udoessien, Defense Council with EBR Public Defender’s Office.

The veterans specialty treatment court is still in the pilot stages, so they are still in the process of determining what crimes will be accepted and which ones will not.

They are hoping to have everything squared away and available by the beginning of next year.

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