Presentation on theme: "NAMI Florida Annual State Conference 2014 Veterans Justice Outreach Program Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center 1601 SW Archer Rd. Gainesville, FL 32608."— Presentation transcript:
NAMI Florida Annual State Conference 2014 Veterans Justice Outreach Program Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center 1601 SW Archer Rd. Gainesville, FL (352) Wendy E. Snee, LCSW, ACSW Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist (904)
HISTORY In 2000, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics called attention to the numbers of veterans involved with the legal system when it published the report, “Veterans in Prison and Jail,” estimating that around 10% of inmates in prison and jails were Veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has committed to preventing incarceration and reducing recidivism among Veterans through the development of the Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) Program. VJO Initiative “ The purpose of the VJO initiative is to avoid unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among Veterans by ensuring that eligible Veterans in contact with the criminal justice system have access to Veterans Health Administration (VHA) mental health and substance services.” Source: Department of Veterans Affairs, April 30, Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Operations and Management (DUSHOM)
The most recent national data on justice involved veterans is from just when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were beginning to show their effects on our deployed service members. Approximately 200,000+ veterans were incarcerated in jails and prisons at that date with projected figures up to 700,000. (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences, 2009).
Approximately 50 percent of homeless Veterans have histories of encounters with the legal system. For 70 percent of Veterans in the jail population, the controlling offense was a non-violent crime. On average, these Veterans had five prior arrests, and 45 percent had served two or more state prison sentences. Three out of five of these Veterans had substance dependency problems, almost one in three had serious mental illness, and one in five was homeless, while 60 percent had a serious medical problem. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Survey of Inmates in Local Jails, Conducted by U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, 2006.
What is the Veterans Justice Outreach Program? Each VA medical center has a VJO Specialist who serves as a liaison between VA and the local criminal justice system. The goal of the program is to provide timely access to VA services for eligible Veterans, preventing homelessness and avoiding unnecessary criminalization, while providing routes to mental health and other clinical treatment aimed toward a lasting rehabilitation and independence for the involved Veterans.
CONTINUED May assist in eligibility determination and enrollment, function as members of court treatment teams, use evidence- based interventions appropriate for the justice-involved Veteran population (e.g., Motivational Interviewing). May provide or coordinate training for law enforcement personnel on Veteran- specific issues including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Suicide Prevention. Refer and link Veterans to appropriate VA and non-VA community services. Specific responsibilities: direct outreach, assessment, and case management for justice- involved Veterans in local courts and jails, and liaison with local justice system partners. May provide or coordinate training for law enforcement personnel on Veteran- specific issues including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Suicide Prevention,
VETERANS TREATMENT COURTS (VTC) Hybrid Drug and Mental Health Courts that use the Drug Court model to serve Veterans struggling with addiction, serious mental illness and/or co-occurring disorders. Promotion of sobriety, recovery and stability through a coordinated response that involves cooperation and collaboration with VA medical centers, the Veterans Benefits Administration, volunteer Veteran mentors, and Veterans’ family support organizations.”
The Veterans Treatment Court model requires regular court appearances (a bi- weekly minimum in the early phases of the program), as well as mandatory attendance at treatment sessions and frequent and random testing for substance use (drug and/or alcohol). Veterans respond favorably to this structured environment given their past experiences in the Armed Forces.
UNIQUE FEATURES OF VTC Veterans-Only Docket – Judge is supported by multidisciplinary team and has better understanding of veteran’s needs. Camaraderie among those who served - tapping into the unique aspects of military and veteran culture and using it to the benefit of the veteran. Supported by volunteer Veteran Mentors who provide morale and motivational support. One Stop Shop – VA and community agents available at court to assist with appointments, benefits, etc.
VTC Locations 14 Veterans Treatment Courts in Florida How to Locate - treatment-court-locations treatment-court-locations treatment-court-locations
What Veteran’s Justice Outreach Program (VJO) Can’t Do Write lengthy court reports, complete Diversion paperwork Serve only OEF/OIF veterans Decide criminal justice criteria for veteran court participation or decide who gains admission to specialty treatment court Perform forensic psychiatric or psychological evaluation for the court
What Veteran’s Justice Outreach Program (VJO) Can’t Do Do Diversion Programming, accept custody Guarantee program acceptance Advocate for legislation Serve VHA ineligible Veterans
NOTABLE DEVELOPMENTS Access to Legal Services Access to Legal Services –VHA Directive : VA medical centers making office space available for legal service providers to work with Veterans – Jacksonville started Legal Clinic in cooperation with Florida Coastal School of Law in October. Providing intake at the Outpatient Clinic on bi-monthly basis. –Duval County Veterans Treatment Court is set to be recognized as a National Model and National Training Site.