FLINT, MI – The Genesee County Veterans Treatment Court is more than a courtroom. It’s become a living memorial to those who have served their country, and it’s one of more than 130 documented Veterans Treatment Courts now operating throughout the U.S.
The Genesee court, launched in 2013, was inspired by a staffer for the Genesee County Probate Court. She lost her son as a result of PTSD-related complications after he served three tours in Afghanistan. Judge Jennie Barkey and other members of the Flint, Michigan, judicial community came together to create the special court, which focuses exclusively on helping the disproportionate number of justice-involved U.S. Military Veterans who find themselves embroiled in the U.S. justice system after returning from combat. The Genesee County Veterans Treatment Court is dedicated to the memory of Sergeant Dwayne “Wayne” Cherry.
According to Barkey and Justice for Vets, Veterans Treatment Courts, first established in 2007 in Buffalo, NY, are designed to address the needs of Veterans who struggle with substance abuse and a disability—such as PTSDor traumatic brain injury—related to their military service, and who have committed a crime directly tied to their disability or addiction issues. The year-long program requires participating Veterans to remain substance-free, attend treatment, report regularly to court, be accountable and move forward with activities like education or community service.
The statistics for military veterans and the criminal justice system can be staggering, and according to Genesee Court Administrator James Bauer, drug and alcohol abuse are a significant part of what brings Veterans into their program. Nearly 30% of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan met the criteria for alcohol abuse. And between 60 and 80% of Vietnam Veterans seeing PTSD treatment have alcohol use problems. According to Bauer, the most common offenses the court deals with include drug-related crimes like possession, drunk driving and domestic violence.
Alcohol Monitoring Grant Supports Court’s Mission
All Veterans in the program are required to stay drug- and alcohol-free, and in February 2014 the court received a grant for SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring™ (SCRAM CAM™) technology to help its alcohol-dependent participants get and stay sober. The technology includes an anklet that automatically tests a subject’s perspiration every 30 minutes, 24/7, in order to measure for alcohol consumption. “The alcohol monitoring has been a big help for some of our Vets,” notes Bauer. “It is a good guideline for them—it keeps them in line. One client said he’s never had a period of sobriety this long since he was 17.”
Through the Alcohol Monitoring Grant for Veterans Treatment Courts, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) and its local affiliates provide SCRAMCAM™ equipment and daily monitoring, free of charge, to Veterans in qualifying Veterans Treatment Courts. Nationally, the program has funded more than $200,000 worth of alcohol monitoring to 30 courts in 15 states.Eight Genesee Veterans have received alcohol monitoring through the grant, which was provided by AMS and Michigan-based House Arrest Services.
To date, 27 Veterans have entered the Genesee County Veterans Treatment Court and 6 have graduated. The court is looking forward to the graduation of 2 more participants in November 2014.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS)
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) is the world’s leading provider of alcohol testing technologies for the criminal justice industry. The company’s flagship Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) technology, launched in 2003, revolutionized the way courts, agencies and treatment providers monitor and manage alcohol-involved offenders. In 2013 the company launched the SCRAM Systems suite of electronic monitoring technologies, which includes SCRAM Remote Breath™, SCRAM GPS™, andSCRAM House Arrest™. AMS employs 156 people worldwide and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.