A new Dallas court is aiming to help military veterans who have fallen on tough times. It’s known as the Veterans’ Court, and it’s one of several new pushes in the Dallas area that hope to fight crime using rehabilitation as opposed to punishment alone.
The program recently received a grant of $300,000 from the Texas Veterans’ Commission. The hope is to help more than 100 Texas veterans get back on track every year. Dallas officials have been trying to create the court for some time, after they noticed that too-often defendants in drug cases were military veterans. They began to question whether these issues were the result of poor support from the community.
Assistant Attorney General Chris Bowers pointed out that programs like this one might have helped troubled people like Micah Johnson, the former marine who killed five police officers in a tragic shooting. Neglecting to help people in need has the potential to lead to dark places. Many veterans struggle with mental and physical issues when they return home. Perhaps a more caring justice system could help improve these conditions.
What Makes this Dallas Court Different?
Most criminal courts view drug charges as a form of punishment. They aim to deter criminals through sentencing, and hope to take dangerous people off the streets. This court, however, is not just looking to punish veterans. Take Odis Garmon, for instance, a Dallas veteran struggling with addiction. The program responded to his case by forgiving him of municipal fees and charges in exchange for community service. The program will also help provide a support network for him down the road. This will make it easier for veterans like Garmon to break out of potential downward spirals and get the help they need.
The program is still young. We don’t know what the impact will be yet. The hope is that by providing support, Dallas and other cities can help those who have served to escape addiction and other issues and get their lives back on track.