Presentation on theme: "Jude Litzenberger, Coordinator, Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, San Diego Superior Court and Executive Director, California Veterans Legal Task Force;"— Presentation transcript:
Jude Litzenberger, Coordinator, Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, San Diego Superior Court and Executive Director, California Veterans Legal Task Force; (LCDR, USN (Ret.) Hon. John Lonergan, California Superior Court, Los Angeles County (Col., USAR) Paul Freese, Director of Litigation and Advocacy, Public Counsel Law Center Los Angeles (Veteran, US Army)
VETERANS TREATMENT COURTS Judge Robert Russell – Buffalo City Court (+) Veterans Treatment Courts in U.S. 13 in California -Santa Clara, Orange, San Bernardino, Tulare, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Joaquin, San Diego, Riverside, Santa Barbara, El Dorado, Placer, San Mateo (Sonoma, Kern, Monterey, Alameda, Sacramento, Sierra, San Luis Obispo, Kings) Collaborative Team model – hybrid of drug court and mental health court operation Provide and monitor treatment in lieu of jail/prison Distinctive VTC features – Veteran Mentors & VA care Early returns – Buffalo zero recidivism after two years
VTC Basics Collaborative approach – 3-4 phased program with therapeutic/legal/social focus toward independence Most plea agreements include legal incentives upon completion or at phase intervals as legally permitted Intense scrutiny in probation monitoring Dynamic individualized treatment plan (12-18 mos) Felonies/Misdemeanors (formal/informal probation) Drug/Alcohol testing as required
Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration (2006). “Guidelines and Recommendations for Services Provided by VHA Facilities to Incarcerated Veterans Re-Entering Community Living.” Undersecretary for Health’s Information Letter, Washington, D.C.
Veterans Combat Experience 36.7% Received small arms fire 56.9% Received incoming artillery, rocket or mortar fire 18.1% Handled or uncovered human remains 34.1% Saw dead or seriously injured Americans 57.1% Knew someone seriously injured or killed 47.4% Saw dead bodies or human remains 45.4% Had a member of their unit become a casualty Source: Office of the Surgeon Multi-National Corps-Iraq, Office of the Surgeon General U.S. Army Medical Command. Mental Health Advisory Team (MHAT) VI OIF May 8, 2009.
Vietnam Theater Veterans Current PTSD ( ) Incarcerated 3,140,000479,000 (15.2%) 223,000 (45%) 34.2% Misd. 11.5% Felony Source: National Center for PTSD, Fact Sheet: Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study, 1988 ~ National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey (NVVRS)
OEF/OIF Theater Veterans Current PTSD Incarcerated 2,200,000 CA ,000 (35%) CA 69, ,500 (45%) CA 31,185 Extrapolation based on data from National Center for PTSD, Fact Sheet: Findings from the National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study, 1988; and VA published estimates of OEF/OIF veterans’ PTSD rates. Extrapolation for OEF/OIF Veterans U.S. and California
THIRTY YEARS OF LOBBYING Increased Criminality and Consequences Vietnam Era OEF/OIF Era DUI limits were 1.0 % BAC or higher in most states DUI was traffic ticket that only effected driver’s license if repeated No interstate compact – could move to start fresh Domestic Violence was family matter No data mining/criminal records private DUI limits are.08% or less BAC in most states DUI is misd/felony crime with severe driver’s license and employment impact Interstate compact 48 states and federal jurisdictions Domestic Violence misd/felony with major life consequences Data mining/public records
Clinical Implications of PTS Traumatic event is re-experienced (triggers) Persistent Avoidance of Stimuli associated with the event and Numbing of response Hyper-Arousal Symptomology of Interest - Sleep interference - Outbursts of anger - Concentration/focus problems - Unreasonable Fear and Hypervigilence - Exaggerated Startle Response
Practice Tip: TREATABLE Conditions! Post Traumatic Stress (PTS, PTSD, combat stress, military operational stress – watch “disorder”) Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Military Sexual Trauma (MST) Depression Substance Abuse/Addiction These become worse with incarceration, treatment resistant with age and chronicity. Early identification and timely treatment yields best results.
Typical Offenses ANYTHING High Risk - Driving offenses/robberies DUI (multiple offenses in short time period) Substance abuse (85% self treat with alcohol) Bar fights/Assaults Domestic Violence (atypical) Possession/Brandishing firearms Look for “weird facts” related to triggers
Penal Code CA Legislative History Formerly PC enacted in 1982 in recognition of Vietnam Combat Veterans involved in felony crimes related to their psychological war wounds Revised in 1984, 2006, 2010 and 2012
What PC § Does California Penal Code § allows the court to provide treatment in lieu of incarceration for veterans who suffer from PTSD, TBI, sexual trauma, substance abuse, or mental health problems as a result of having served in the United States military. Encourages treatment as early as possible to make communities safe and restore veterans to health.
Prerequisites for PC (a)... If the veteran alleges the offense was committed as a result of military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or mental health problems stemming from service in the United States military, Before being sentenced to county jail or state prison the court shall, make a determination as to whether the defendant served in the military and whether the defendant may be suffering from [the above].
PC§ after 1/1/11 Defendant served/serves in the military Defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty Probation eligible/assigned and appropriate treatment is available Treatment can be VA, Vet Center, or other local mental health resources if available and preference given to programs which have a history of treating veteran’s particular assessed condition(s). Custody credits day for day for residential treatment.
AB2371 Changes Effective 1/1/13 Judge monitoring probation/treatment may reduce felony “wobblers” to misdemeanors Misdemeanors, including those reduced, may be dismissed by the judge without prosecutor agreement Unless applying for position in law enforcement, veteran may answer “NO” to questions re: arrest and conviction as related to the dismissed case Can be considered a prior if any new criminal conduct happens after dismissal by monitoring judge
VTCs Save Local and State $$$ Feb 2011-Feb 2012 San Diego VTRC data Two year average is 100 veterans per week booked into county jails (answered yes to “have you ever served in the military?) Diverting 21 veterans in VTRC program saved $530,000 in jail costs (based on $ p/day) VA paid for treatment for the 21 participants, saving the county equivalent of $409,000 for 3500 residential days ($39 p/day) and 1100 hours of therapy ($61.50 p/hr LCSW rate) One new case – 4.7% recidivism (cf 48 cases prior 2 yrs)
California Veterans Legal Task Force (CVLTF)
CVLTF Assistance Recognized non-profit organization under Internal Revenue Code 501(c )3 (funding/grant partnership) Offers free assistance to counties throughout California to help start and expand Veterans Treatment Courts and affordable legal assistance to veterans and their families (website, evaluation) We do not advocate any particular model of VTC, but can educate the local community organizers on models they can look at to decide one for their community Conducting survey on all CA VTCs/Collaboration for more information or to donate
Big Thanks to Our Sponsors County of San Diego HHSA, Mental Health Systems, Inc. Courage to Call Program grant Raymond James Charitable Trust Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Club of San Diego Consumer Attorneys of San Diego California Veterans Benefit Fund California Department of Veterans Affairs
Panel Presentation Hon. John Lonergan, Los Angeles Superior Court Paul Freese, Director of Litigation and Advocacy, Public Counsel Law Center, Los Angeles Jude Litzenberger, Coordinator, Veterans Treatment Review Calendar, San Diego Superior Court and Executive Director, California Veterans Legal Task Force Moderator: Miguel Pares, San Bernardino County Probation Department
Thank you for helping build stronger communities and restoring those veterans who serve our nation!