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Vets Fighting Drug Abuse, Other Problems Finish Court Program

   RIVERSIDE (CNS) - More than two dozen military veterans who
successfully completed a Riverside County Superior Court program that provides
alternatives to incarceration will be recognized today.
   Thirty attendees of the Veterans Court will receive graduation
certificates during an afternoon ceremony at the Riverside Historic Courthouse.
   This is the court's eighth graduating class since the program began in
January 2012.
   Superior Court Judge Mark Johnson, who is based at the Banning Justice
Center, oversees the Veterans Court, which is convened once a week.
   Speakers at the graduation ceremony will include U.S. Air Force Col.
Melissa Colburn, commander of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March Air Reserve
Base, and Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside.
   The Veterans Court program offers resources to veterans diagnosed with
post-traumatic stress disorder, contending with substance abuse issues or
psychological problems stemming from their deployment to combat zones, or who
had experiences that left them scarred at a young age, according to court
   In exchange for having their cases heard in the Veterans Court,
defendants have to plead guilty or consent to their probation being reinstated.
Felons and misdemeanants are eligible to participate, and instead of jail,
they're placed in 12- to 18-month-long treatment programs that include group
therapy, substance abuse counseling, alcohol monitoring and mental health
   Participants must be available to make regular progress reports to the
   Agencies partnering in the effort include the Riverside County
District Attorney's Office, the Mental Health and Probation departments, the
Office of the Public Defender, the Riverside Police Department and the U.S.
Veterans Administration.
   In 2012, the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance
awarded a $350,000 grant to help get the program started.

CNS-05-24-2019 02:43

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