Around the country, special courts are set up for former military members who have been charged with crimes after returning to civilian life, and who may be struggling with PTSD. Judges, lawyers, probation officers and others work together to treat or punish each defendant. Special correspondent Spencer Michels reports on how the new approach can offer troubled veterans a path forward….
JUDGE JEFFREY ROSS: Our goal is to find an outcome which will both prevent recidivism, keep the public safe, keep the victims from being re-victimized, but also deal with the person’s background and the reasons he that he committed the violent conduct that we were just addressing.
SPENCER MICHELS: Using federal grants, as well a local funds, courts rely on the VA to coordinate physical and mental care, plus weekly court dates for vets in trouble. It’s up to the vet to comply.
KYONG YI, Department of Veterans Affairs: We often meet with the veteran when they’re in custody, develop a plan for where they’re going to go when they’re coming out, especially if they’re homeless.
It is about time our criminal justice system returned to treating those who break the law because of circumstances some say are beyond their control differently. It is good to hear that many veterans are being treated instead of incarcerated. I’m sure PSTD has deadly effects of some of our returning soldiers. But are the vets the only ones who could benefit from this special judicial attention?
Couldn’t these same sets of parameters apply who those who grew up in abusive families, or those due who live are in areas with destructive gangs. Couldn’t taking into account these conditions also result in less recidivism? Wouldn’t it be great if this new way of looking at returning soldiers’ crimes could be applied to others.
Just giving special attention to someone, rather than just shoveling them through the system, almost always has positive effects. This phenomenon is known as the “Hawthorn Effect” was discovered almost a hundred years ago in a Western Electric plant near Chicago. Here is a little about that from Wiki:
The Hawthorne effect (also referred to as the observer effect) is a type of reactivity in which individuals improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed
The crux of the message is that if you pay special attention to people they will usually react positively. I am very glad to see special attention given to our very distressed returning vets and would like to see that applied to a much wider variety of our citizens….