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All Press Releases for December 22, 2012 »
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South Carolina Using Veterans' Courts to Address Drug Crimes

South Carolina is using veterans' courts to help servicemembers who are struggling with addiction and mental health
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    December 22, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- In the years since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, there has been a lot of discussion about the issue of post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse among returning servicemembers. While this increased visibility is certainly helpful, PTSD and addiction are by no means new problems in the military community.

Because of the stress they have experienced, combat veterans are more likely to experience issues with mental health or illegal drugs. The unique mindset that servicemembers have also means that they are often more unlikely to ask for help if problems arise.

All too often, this leads veterans to get in trouble with the law. Recently, South Carolina officials have followed the lead of other states in creating special courts for veterans facing criminal charges.

The courts work much like more traditional "drug courts." Participants are given a reprieve from jail time so long as they are getting treatment for their underlying addiction or mental health issues and are complying with the other terms of their sentence. In addition, participants get support from mentors and other participants, all of whom are veterans themselves. The courts work because they frame recovery in a way that makes sense to someone with a military mindset.

South Carolina veterans' courts aren't just reserved for recent Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Nearly all veterans are eligible, regardless of when they served or whether they had been deployed to a combat zone. The only restrictions are that the underlying offense must be non-violent and that the veteran has a diagnosed mental health or substance abuse disorder. It is not necessary for the disorder to be directly connected to a service-related injury or traumatic event.

South Carolina's program is relatively new, so there is not yet good data about how successful veterans' court participants have been. Still, with over 400,000 veterans in South Carolina, anything the state can do to help struggling servicemembers is bound to have a positive impact.

South Carolina drug crimes

Veterans' court is just one of the many alternative sentencing options available to people charged with drug crimes and other non-violent offenses in South Carolina. Most drug crimes are rooted in addiction, and it is often more beneficial to treat the underlying problem than to simply lock the person up.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addition or mental health issues and facing criminal charges, it is a good idea to talk to an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney. In most cases, alternative sentencing options must be explored early on in the process. The attorney can help you identify alternatives to jail and determine whether your case qualifies.

Article provided by Monckton Law Firm, P.A.
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