For Immediate Release
November 11, 2013
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Mayor Thomas Menino today announced a partnership with the Trial Court of the Commonwealth to expand court-administered programs to provide substance abuse and mental health treatment for Boston veterans while working toward the creation of a “Veterans Court,” that would address the needs of veterans afflicted with drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues.
“As we commemorate Veterans Day, we are mindful that there are many warriors among us who have returned from distant battlefields only to discover that they are still at war. Each day, these veterans battle debilitating addictions,” Mayor Menino said. “Many struggle with post- traumatic stress disorder, the effects of traumatic brain injuries or other service-related mental health issues. Their afflictions lead some to criminal activity and the court system, and traditional measures are both inappropriate and unproductive for these men and women.”
Traditional court sentences often fail to address the underlying conditions which contributed to veterans’ criminal conduct. Not only do their conditions worsen, but their criminal records stigmatize them and impair their ability to obtain employment or housing, increasing the likelihood of repeated criminal behavior, even on the part of veterans who desperately wish to be good citizens.
“We need a different model for these wounded warriors, one that focuses on restorative justice and rehabilitation,” said Bill Sinnott, a retired Marine and Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston. “On this Veterans Day the sacrifices of the men and women who have served in our military will be appropriately commemorated by our City and by fellow veterans who understand that it is our solemn duty to leave no warrior behind. This agreement takes that sentiment and carries it home for them.”
Pilot programs around the country and here in Massachusetts indicate high success for such initiatives, with recidivism rates a fraction of those of traditional programs. Under the newly reached agreement, the Trial Court of the Commonwealth and the City of Boston pledge to partner their efforts to offer such court programs and to fund the training of personnel while working toward the creation of the special veterans court in the City of Boston to see if it is viable on a permanent basis.
Several city agencies including the Human Services and Veterans Services cabinets, Boston Police, and the Boston Law Department have signed on to provide assistance.
“The Massachusetts Trial Court welcomes Mayor Menino's support for a partnership to improve services to veterans in Boston,” said Paula M. Carey, Chief Justice of the Trial Court. “We currently serve many veterans through special court sessions in Boston for those dealing with drug dependency, mental health issues and homelessness. We look forward to working with city and state officials to expand our ability to meet the needs of our veterans."