Third Judicial Circuit implements Veteran's Treatment Court

 Judge Deborah Thomas

Third Judicial Circuit of Michigan
Between 2008-2012, The U.S. Census Bureau identified Wayne County as the home of 110,566 veterans. The total number of veterans in the State of Michigan for the same time period was 692,582. It was only appropriate for one of the largest counties in the state to have a stand-alone Veteran’s Treatment Court to address the needs of our returning veterans who were faced with matters within the criminal justice system.

Prior to October 1 of this year, I, along with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, The Department of Corrections, Defense Counsel, Veteran’s Administration—Detroit, and Third Circuit’s Drug Treatment Court operated a Veteran’s Docket to address the needs of our veterans. We operated this docket for 18 months, but realized due to the restrictions under traditional drug court, we were still not able to reach our intended target population due to ineligible charged offenses under Drug Treatment Court. Through the tireless efforts of the Court and our team, we were able to secure grant funding for a stand-alone Veteran’s Treatment
Court in Wayne County. I am honored that Judge James A. Callahan, also a former military man, has joined our team as we begin to grow our program.

A few of our most important program goals are to: (1) Reduce substance abuse during program participation by partnering with the Veteran’s Administration and other agencies to provide substance abuse treatment, (2) Improve participant’s mental health during program participation, as many of our returning veterans are dealing with depression, PTSD, and other forms of mental health issues related to their service, (3) Reduce recidivism, and (4) Equip each veteran with the tools and resources they need to return to a productive, crime-free existence in their communities.

I am proud to be a part of the Veteran’s Treatment Court, as I come from a long line of military. My great-grandfather served, as well as my grandfather and father. I know what it means firsthand to our servicemen and women to sacrifice for God and Country. For their unparallel sacrifices and bravery, we owe it to them to serve them and to give them a second chance at regaining their honor.

We ask for the State Legislature’s and the community’s continued support. We are currently looking for mentors, who have a military background, to serve as mentors to our participants. If interested, please contact the Court at (313)224-6316.

In recognition of Veteran’s Day and the implementation of our Veteran’s Treatment Court, we will be hosting a special ceremony on Friday, November 7. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in Courtroom 302 of Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, 1441 St. Antoine, Detroit, MI. The Veteran’s of Foreign War 4th District—Honor Guard will be present. Light refreshments will be served following the ceremony. All are welcome to attend.


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