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Criminal Justice & Legal System

Chief justice: Michigan has more vets courts than other states

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz
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The Michigan Supreme Court will choose a new Supreme Court Chief Justice today

The Michigan Supreme Court hosted a training day for judges and others assigned to work in specialty veterans courts. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young says veterans accused and convicted of crimes have unique issues that must be addressed if they’re going to be rehabilitated. 

“They are fraught with the all the difficulties that come with having served in armed warfare, and so these are courts that are tailored to the unique needs of our returning veterans,” says Young.

“For every one of those people that we can keep out of the jails and in their families and in their jobs, it’s just a tremendous advantage for not only the individual, but the state as well.”

Veterans courts make heavy use of veterans counselors to help former military personnel. Young  says, while veterans treatment courts are relatively new, the state already has had good luck with other specialty courts that deal specifically with substance abuse and people with mental illnesses.

“People who complete those programs are three times less likely than the general population to re-offend within two years. That’s a pretty astonishing outcome.”

Young says Michigan now has about 20 courts that focus on rehabilitating veterans convicted of crimes. That’s more than any other state.