House advances measure to establish an additional Veterans Treatment Court
Photos and article by Ramona du Houx
The Maine House gave initial approval May 31, 2017 to a bill that would establish a second Veterans Treatment Court in Maine.
There is currently one veterans treatment court in Maine, located in Kennebec County. Participants of the treatment court are required to meet weekly with the judge and their assigned case manager. They also undergo outpatient treatment, including substance and mental health counselling as well as drug and alcohol testing.
Rep. Bettyann Sheats, D-Auburn, submitted the legislation after seeing the success of the Kennebec Court. While recidivism rates for people convicted of crimes is averaged above 65 percent, graduates of the veterans treatment court in Kennebec have a rate of nearly zero.
“The Veterans Treatment Court connects veterans with the treatment they need, the services they have earned and the support they deserve,” said Sheats. “I’m very appreciative of the support that this bill received.”
The legislation, as amended, relies on current law to direct the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to establish an additional Veterans Treatment Court where it is most needed. It also provides the funding for the court as well as the services to be provided.
“Most members of our military coming home from active duty do not need this type of court,” said Sheats. “But for those who do, we must do our part to continue to honor their service by helping them avoid incarceration, get the treatment and counselling they need and once again contribute to society as we know they can.”
The measure, LD 111, faces further votes in both the House and the Senate.
Sheats, a member of the Legislature’s Committee on Transportation, is serving her first term in the Maine House. She represents Minot and part of Auburn.