Exciting things are happening in Lebanon County; one of them is the establishment of a Veterans Court that began in January, 2019.
“With a goal of rehabilitating veterans and reducing the prison population to below 500, John Shott, The Honorable Judge John Tylwalk, and Director of Probation Sally Barry presented a $20,000 Veteran’s Court for start-up costs.
“To help make the Court sustainable, a $500 Administration fee will be paid by participants. Participants may receive House Arrest and avoid jail time. Incentives in the form of gift cards are one reward for successfully completing the program. Volunteer veterans are sought as mentors to help fellow veterans through the process. Training is provided. Judge Tylwalk will meet with each veteran.
“This 24-month proactive program is one more tool in the toolbox along with DUI Treatment Court, the Renaissance Crossroads Program, Day Reporting Center, and pretrial diversion components of the IP plan already in place. Participants will perform community service projects. Sanctions include writing essays, loss of privileges, demotion to a lower phase, additional fines, curfew restrictions, incarceration, and removal from the program. The presence of the VA Medical Center provides an extra layer of support that many other counties do not have. Starting with 10 participants, there is room to grow the program to 50 participants. A 90% completion/graduation rate is anticipated.” – Click on the above graphic to watch a December 2018 video explaining the Veterans Court process.
“Veterans Courts assist veterans charged with crimes who are struggling with addiction, mental illness or co-occurring disorders and come in contact with the criminal justice system.
“Utilizing the successful drug court model, participants come before judges on a regular basis, receive support and guidance from veteran mentors, are supervised by specialized probation officers and receive treatment and support from the Veterans Administration to address underlying problems often caused by post-traumatic stress disorders. Pennsylvania’s first veterans court opened in Lackawanna County in November 2009. With more than 800,000 veterans, Pennsylvania has the fourth largest population of veterans in the country.” – Source: The Unified JUDICIAL SYSTEM of PENNSYLVANIA Website
Click here to read a VFW Magazine article about Veterans Courts: “Ten Years of Second Chances | A decade ago, officials at a New York court were stunned at how veterans charged with non-violent crimes responded to an offer of help”
“Dave Stroman, a life member of VFW Post 7397 in Lenexa, Kan., speaks during Garrett Cleek’s graduation from the Johnson County (Kan.) Veterans Treatment Court in October 2017. Stroman, a Vietnam War veteran, serves as a mentor to Cleek, an Afghanistan War veteran and fellow Post member, as well as other veterans in the program. Photo by Beth Lipoff.” – VFW Magazine
Click here to read a December, 2018 Lebanon Daily News article about the establishment of the Veterans Court.