Lubbock County establishing veterans treatment court - FOX34 Lubbock

Lubbock County establishing veterans treatment court

LUBBOCK, Texas -


Lubbock County is in the process of establishing a veterans treatment court, and the specialty set-up would focus on treatment and rehab, rather than a prison pod.

"We're talking about the true veterans who have put their lives on the line and served our country, there's a group of those individuals who really need a special place in the justice system." Sunshine Stanek, Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney, said.

It is designed to help veterans avoid prison time by treating underlying issues, like mental health and substance abuse, Stanek said.

"What we don't want to see is just this revolving door where the same person in any circumstances, including veterans, the same person just continues to be arrested, put in jail, bond out, and aren't getting the true help that they need," Stanek said.

It is something retired Air Force Col. Dave Lewis said he has been pushing the county to establish for years. The county is now putting together a working group to create the specialty court.

"It's to bring the right offenders into a non-adversarial courtroom where they can get, first of all, understanding, support, and most importantly, treatment for their issues," Lewis said. "It may range from post traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury ... something got them into the criminal justice system, and we want to try to explore that and get them back up on step, back into producers into our community."

The program will not be a "get out of jail free" card, he said. To be in it, he said offenders have to demonstrate they are willing to change.

"...that things are ready to move forward for you, and you're going to commit to a variety of different things, behavior changes, that will monitor with the judge who can sanction, i.e. put them back into jail or take them out of the treatment court," Lewis said.

The DA said the county is still in the process of establishing funding for the court and creating a model for it.

"The idea is that they are dealt with in a way that helps them based on the background that the judge, the court, and the probation officers know about them, in combination with whatever crime they have been charged with," Stanek said.

The county plans to tour other vet courts across the state to figure out what is best for those in the Lubbock area, she said. It hopes to have the veterans court running as soon as next year.

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