Federal Grants Expand Veterans Treatment Court Offerings in Kansas – Pratt Tribune


TOPEKA—The judiciary will increase the number of veterans treatment courts operating in Kansas by three and improve the operations of existing treatment courts through three grants from the U.S. Department of Justice.

All three grants come from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, with one coming to the judiciary through the Kansas Governor’s Grant Program and another through a grant appropriation obtained by Senator Jerry Moran.

Together, the grants total $3.15 million and will be disbursed over periods ranging from one to four years. Two of the grants will allow the judiciary to increase the total number of veterans processing courts in Kansas to five.

Grant funding helps cover the start-up costs of treatment courts and contributes to their long-term success. It will also be used to cover the costs of certain supplies and services used by the courts, as well as the training of judges and court staff who operate the courts.

“We are excited to add Veterans Processing Courts in some of our busiest court districts where more veterans live,” Chief Justice Marla Luckert said. “We are grateful to Senator Moran for being a champion for veterans living in Kansas and supporting our efforts to add veterans treatment courts where they are needed most.”

Luckert also noted the past and ongoing support of former Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, who retired in 2019. He is a veteran and passionate about expanding veterans’ treatment offerings in Kansas.

Luckert identified Nuss as the driving force behind a four-part multi-state webinar series she co-hosted with him for a few months beginning in late 2020. The series covered how to start and run a court of treatment of veterans, including how to obtain funding. Participants included prosecution and defense attorneys, law enforcement, community corrections, veterans organizations and mental health professionals.

Veterans Treatment Courts offer people who have served in the armed forces and who have a substance abuse disorder or mental health problem the opportunity to receive treatment to help them break a cycle that could lead to incarceration .

A veteran who participates in a treatment court program must attend court regularly, participate in treatment, and submit to regular drug and alcohol testing. The structure provided by the court reduces the likelihood that the veteran will re-offend and remain involved in the criminal justice system.

Establish a Statewide Veterans Treatment Court Program Grant funding supports the creation of a statewide Specialized Court Coordinator position to assist local programs. The position will be housed in the Office of Judicial Administration in Topeka.

The Statewide Coordinator will ensure treatment courts adhere to the 10 Key Elements for Drug Courts and the 10 Key Elements for Veterans Treatment Courts, as outlined by the Bureau of Justice Assistance .

The coordinator will also develop standards and protocols to centrally collect, analyze, and maintain Veterans Treatment Court program datasets to measure program effectiveness.

Supporting Existing Veterans Treatment Courts Kansas currently has two operating Veterans Treatment Courts. The 10th Judicial District, consisting of Johnson County, opened its court in January 2016. A year later, it recognized its first graduate.

Most recently, the 29th Judicial District, consisting of Wyandotte County, launched its Veterans Processing Court in the summer of 2021.

The funds will be used to purchase supplies and services for these veterans treatment courts.

Help start new veterans treatment courts The grants will also help some new veterans treatment courts get started.

District Judge Bill Ossmann will preside over a veterans processing court at the Shawnee County District Court. He said the court had been in the planning phase for more than a year and would start accepting applications in December.

“Shawnee County has a drug treatment court that has made a difference in the lives of people with persistent drug addiction,” Ossmann said. “With the cooperation of the DA’s office, the VA, and our other community partners, we hope to have similar success with veterans who find themselves involved in the criminal justice system with our new Veterans Treatment Court.”

In Leavenworth County, District Judge Dan Wiley, himself a veteran, will preside over a Veterans Treatment Court in his district. The tribunal is expected to launch in January 2023.

Wiley said he and his colleagues had talked about creating a veterans treatment court for years before taking concrete action in recent months. He added that Assistant County Attorney Chris Lyon, also a veteran, was key to moving the plan forward.

“There is a brotherhood of service that transcends all branches. We can joke about the differences, but the bottom line is we’ve all served our country,” Wiley said. “We have a bond that doesn’t go away, and it’s a way of supporting each other.”

District Judge Rodger Woods said excitement is growing for a veterans treatment court in his community. Like other jurisdictions, Sedgwick County has a large veteran population. The county is also home to McConnell Air Force Base and a veterans hospital.

The Sedgwick County Veterans Treatment Court is scheduled to open in January.

“We’ve had a drug treatment court program for almost 15 years, and there has long been a desire to establish a veterans treatment court in Sedgwick County,” Woods said. “With the grants now available, we are working earnestly with stakeholders to make our Veterans Treatment Court a reality. »

Kansas Veterans PopulationK ansas is home to three active duty US military installations. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that Kansas had 195,434 veterans in fiscal year 2020.


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