The way Michigan approaches the issue of veterans caught up in the legal system has changed dramatically in recent years – a fact that has seen countless former soldiers and war heros offered a new lease on life. It’s something we’ve written about before, as the way our legal system handles traumatized soldiers shifts towards something far more compassionate.
Although Michigan has a total of 25 Veteran’s Courts scattered throughout our Great Lakes State, the recent news article has highlighted the operations of the one in Monroe, MI and shined a light on it’s success. According to an article in The Monroe News, the Monroe County Veteran’s Court has seen unprecedented success in their treatment of military veterans who are caught up in the legal system.
First Monroe County District Court Judge Terrence P. Bronson, who started the Veteran’s Court in Monroe County, is a veteran himself. A retired Navy captain, Judge Bronson saw the need for a different way to help vets struggling with PTSD and the transition back into civilian life. The whole purpose, he says, is to help veterans, and it’s a point he makes very clear to every former soldier that darkens the door of his court.
Judge Bronson’s court is made up of seven professionals from a variety of different law enforcement and veteran agencies. One of them is Monroe County Assistant Prosecutor Ronald J. Benore Jr. who is an eight year Army veteran. Working together, the team helps each vet to get back on their feet through therapy, medication, treatment, assistance and oversight.
In his interview with The Monroe News, Assistant Prosecutor Ronald J. Benore says that he’s seen veterans who were suicidal and at the end of their rope bounce back and go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives. Lives that include lasting relationships, rewarding careers and even opportunities to give back to the community.
According to Judge Bronson, a total of 14 vets have graduated successfully from his program, with another seven currently enrolled. Only five have not completed the program so far, and of those, only two ended up behind bars. It’s not perfect, but it’s a world better than all of those people in jail, struggling with addiction and with no hope for the future.
It’s a lot of work, the judge admits, but it’s worth every second.
In the Michigan legal system, the veteran courts are referred to as the ‘Problem Solving Courts.’ They are part of a greater system of courts aimed at helping people deal with the deeper issues that result in otherwise decent human beings ending up in cuffs in front of a judge. These courts include the Sobriety Courts, the Mental Health Courts, and the Veteran Courts. Another important benefit of these problem solving courts is they divert people away from prisons and jails. Are you shocked to learn that 19% of Michigan’s total state budget goes to the Michigan prison system. Yes, we were pretty shocked too.
The Veterans Court emphasizes stability and recovery for military veterans who have been arrested for crimes that stem from their struggle with recovery from their service to our country. Non-violent offenders who qualify for the program are closely supervised and required to participate in intensive therapy sessions, as well as get their medications in order and stay clean.
In return for lighter sentences, or even deferred sentences, Veteran Courts help veterans to receive what they need to get back on their feet. This includes group and independent therapy, substance abuse counseling, stable employment, housing, and partnering with mentors
We are deeply grateful to the men and women who fought for our nation’s freedom, and we look forward to the day when they are afforded all of the necessary respect, assistance, and care that they deserve. If you are a veteran who has been arrested for a crime in Michigan, call and talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney at The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866-766-5245. Whether it’s weapons-related, drug-related, drunk driving, or a sex crime, we are here to help you get back on your feet.
By the way, since we have your attention anyway, and since we’re talking about taking care of our veterans, we’ll use this opportunity to tell you about the scholarship that The Kronzek Firm is offering to veterans that have served us. If you know a veteran that needs some financial assistance with college or grad school, please pass along this link to them: