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Hamilton County considers veterans court

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A problem-solving court that could offer diversion programs for veterans charged with minor offenses is under consideration in Noblesville.

Hamilton Superior Division 3 Judge William Hughes is proposing development of a court that would use existing resources plus the addition of a part-time administrator at a cost of $38,500. Fees collected by the program are expected to exceed the cost.

Hughes said he pursued the veterans court proposal after seeing a presentation from Floyd Superior Judge Maria Granger, who developed one of the state’s first such courts.

“I have lots of veterans in my life who I’ve watched come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with issues left over,” Hughes said. “If they have time to do that, I can find time to help veterans get through the process. … It’s something for which I have a passion.”

Veterans courts stress treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Participants check in with the courts occasionally for accountability sessions Hughes called “pro-social” appearances where achievements are celebrated and setbacks have consequences. “That’s the key ingredient for making the program successful,” he said. Upon successful completion of the programs, charges are diverted.

Hughes said that in 2012, 444 cases involved veterans incarcerated in the Hamilton County Jail.

According to Indiana Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathryn Dolan, the Indiana Judicial Center since 2011 has certified veterans courts in Floyd, Grant, Porter and Vanderburgh counties and Greenwood City Court. Courts seeking certification are in Dearborn, Delaware and St. Joseph counties.
 

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