POSTED: Monday, July 26, 2010 - 4:35pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 - 11:43am
Smith County-- One study shows nearly 10% of jail populations are veterans. Now, one Smith County group is trying to help. Several community leaders and veterans in Smith County want to develop a Veterans Court that would determine if psychiatric illnesses from the war are causing veterans to commit criminal acts.
National statistics say one-sixth of returning veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes, it leads to drunkenness, fights, domestic abuse, and other crimes. However, with a Veterans Court, some of these cases may not lead to jailtime. If the crime is found to be from psychiatric issues, they can require the veteran to go through treatment rather than be incarcerated.
Choya Shanahan with the American Red Cross says, "When they answered to our country's call, they did so without hesitation. I believe every single veteran deserves the opportunity to have a second chance if they come home to us less than whole."
Murder, rape, and sexual assault cases would not be eligible to be taken to Veterans Court. Veterans have to meet certain qualifications, and they're only given one chance to be evaluated.