Plan to Help Veterans in the Court System

A press release from the McHenry County State’s Attorney:

Veteran’s Assistance Commission, TLS Veterans, and the State’s Attorney’s Office to Launch Veterans Track Program

On March 20, 2017, the Veteran’s Assistance Commission (VAC), TLS Veterans (TLS), and the State’s Attorney’s Office will implement the Veterans Track Program designed to rehabilitate and restore veterans charged with criminal offenses in McHenry County.

“As an organization made up of veterans who understand the unique circumstances and experiences of veterans and current military personnel, we are excited about the Veterans Track,” said Sonia Castaneda, a service officer with the VAC.

“We look forward to helping veterans involved in the criminal justice system avoid further legal involvement by linking them to available state and local resources, including: health care services, employment assistance, financial assistance, disability compensation, and education and training benefits.”

“We recognizes that selfless and honorable military service can expose service members to profoundly dangerous and stressful circumstances, leading to emotional and physical trauma, and thereby increasing the likelihood of criminality,” said Kenneally.

“This Program directs struggling veterans involved with the justice system to the extraordinary people at the VAC and TLS who know how to help them.”

Any defendant that is a former service member interested in the Program must first obtain a mental health/substance abuse evaluation. This evaluation is then made available to the VAC and TLS.

Thereafter, representatives of the VAC and TLS will consult with the defendant and recommend treatment and services in the community available to the defendant based on the defendant’s personal history, mental health, living situation, and any other relevant circumstances.

The VAC will share these recommendations with the State’s Attorney’s Office. The State’s Attorney’s Office, as appropriate, will regard the defendant’s prior service as a compelling factor in mitigation.

As such, it will extend a reduced negotiated plea offer (i.e. agreed upon criminal sentence) that seeks to enhance the application of rehabilitative and treatment based measures, as recommended by the VAC and TLS, and minimize the more punitive forms of criminal redress.

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