FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 13, 2018
580 Taylor Avenue
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court celebrates graduates, three-year anniversary
BALTIMORE - Baltimore City District Court recognized at least five participants for their successful completion of the Baltimore City Veterans Treatment Court (VTC). Baltimore City District Judge Halee Weinstein presided over the docket, which also included a ceremony recognizing the program’s three-year anniversary and Veteran’s Day.
Judge Weinstein, a veteran herself, founded VTC in 2015 as a court supervised, comprehensive, and voluntary treatment based program for veterans charged with misdemeanor and concurrent jurisdiction felonies in the District Court.
“When someone gets out of the military, they don’t have a common mission anymore,” said Judge Weinstein. “They go back into civilian life and it’s a very difficult transition. We’ve spent the past three years building this program from the ground up and it’s been life-changing for these justice-involved veterans.”
VTC’s mission is to serve the community and increase public safety by integrating and incorporating a coordinated treatment response for veterans with substance use disorders and mental health issues.
District Court of Maryland Chief Judge John P. Morrissey and Baltimore City District Administrative Judge Barbara Baer Waxman attended the program, along with United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie Jr. and U.S. Army veteran and Co-Founder/CEO of Badges United Foundation Kim DeFiori. Wilkie and DeFiori served as keynote speakers and congratulated the graduates on their many successes.
"Judge Weinstein has taken her experience as a veteran and added a unique element to her judgeship,” said Chief Judge Morrissey. “She is changing lives by connecting veterans with local resources they desperately need. The program is succeeding in reducing recidivism, lowering criminal justice costs and, most importantly, giving veterans a well-deserved chance to return to civilian life as productive citizens.”
“Judge Weinstein saw a clear need for a program like this in Baltimore City and she acted on it,” said Judge Waxman. “VTC brings together an array of service providers that will connect veterans to the programs and benefits they have earned.”
Some of those community partners and organizations include the Warrior Canine Connection and United Way of Central Maryland.
“Our veterans have fought for and served our country with valor,” said United Way of Central Maryland President and CEO Franklyn Baker. “Through the Veterans Treatment Court, we fight for them with the same passion with which they defended our nation’s values. We’re proud to partner with the Baltimore City District Court and others supporting this critical initiative to help bring treatment-based justice to our veterans.”
VTC also receives support from the American Red Cross, Back on My Feet, Baltimore City Community College, Baltimore Station, Department of Labor, Licensing and Regular (DLLR), Health Care for the Homeless, Gaudenzia, Homeless Persons Representation Project, MCVET, Project PLASE, The Bob Parsons Veterans Advocacy Clinic - University of Baltimore, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and VA Maryland Health Care System.
"We are thrilled to partner with Judge Weinstein's Veterans Treatment Court to serve justice-involved veterans,” said VA Maryland Health Care System Director Dr. Adam M. Robinson. “It is one of the many ways we at the VA Maryland Health Card System work to assist veterans with visible and invisible wounds and support their effort to reintegrate into civilian life."
Service providers help veterans get the support, skills, and services needed to re-enter civilian life, so they can live lawfully and independently. Each veteran is matched with a veteran mentor, who supports the veteran as he/she progresses throughout the program. Veterans also have the option of working with dogs through the Warrior Canine Connection. The partnership allows veterans to train therapy and services dogs that will eventually be matched with a wounded warrior. The dogs also stay in the courtroom during each court docket to comfort the veterans.
VTC is held the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Eastside District Courthouse, located at 1400 E. North Avenue in Baltimore. Since 2015, more than 55 participants have completed the program.
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