Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge Jim Worton announced that he will preside over Bartholomew County’s first problem solving court for Veterans beginning in 2016. Judge Worton says that he, along with Chief Probation Officer Brad Barnes, has been developing the program since January of this year. He adds that a number of other community leaders have helped to develop the program.
Judge Worton says that military veterans sacrifice much to ensure our freedoms. He says these veterans sometime return to civilian life with conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), substance abuse problems and other mental health issues. Judge Worton says that these conditions can lead to involvement with the criminal justice system. He says that Veteran’s Court uses resources through the Veteran’s Administration, local mental health agencies, the Probation Department and other veteran’s assistance agencies to deal with the very unique problems that some Vets are dealing with.
Judge Worton said, “The ultimate goal of this type of problem solving court is to rebuild and restore the lives for those veterans suffering from service related substance abuse and mental health issues. This program is very intensive and should not be mistaken as any sort of get out of jail free card for anyone. The program will provide the ongoing treatment and supervision necessary to help the veteran re-find their mission and restore them back to productive members of society, while still holding them accountable for their actions. What’s more, we are starting this program with no additional costs to the local tax payers.” He adds that future grant funding from the state is possible.
Judge Worton’s office says that participation in the program is voluntary and each referred applicant must be screened, evaluated and approved by a committee chaired by the Judge. He notes that the program consists of several phases that require treatment and other standards be met to pass through each stage, up to graduation from the program. The program, which reportedly takes approximately 18 months to complete, also helps with employment and housing issues for veterans.
The Veteran’s Court will also include a Mentor Program, under which each participant is assigned a volunteer mentor, who is also a veteran. Judge Worton said, “The mentor program is vital. The mentor gives the veteran participant a go-to person to help them navigate the program and someone to turn to in a time of need.”
Those charged with major felonies, serious violent offenses, and/or sex offenses are not eligible for this program.
Worton’s office says the program is currently in the finalizing stages for provisional certification through the Indiana Judicial Center. Superior Court 1 will still hear all of the types of cases that it is currently assigned, along with the Veteran’s Court docket.