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Buffalo Veterans Court


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Judge Robert Russell
Buffalo NY City Court
Hank Pirowski
COURTS Program

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Buffalo Veterans Court

  1. 1. Buffalo Veterans’ Treatment Court Judge Robert T. Russell Presiding Veterans’ Treatment Court Judge Erie County & Buffalo City Courts Jack O’Connor Donna Leigh Hank Pirowski Coordinator, Veteran Mentors Social Work Executive Project Director
  2. 2. Buffalo’s Experience :Veterans Tx Court <ul><li>Treatment Court Background-Drug & Mental Health Courts </li></ul><ul><li>Veterans seen in Treatment Courts </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitation by fellow Veterans </li></ul><ul><li>Visit to Buffalo Veterans Hospital Advisory Board, (WNY) V.A. Director Michael Finnegan </li></ul><ul><li>Community forums with Veterans Health Care, the Court and Community Behavioral Health Care Providers-Keynote Speaker Deputy Under Secretary William Feeley </li></ul>
  3. 4. Veterans Treatment Court? <ul><li>The “ Buffalo Veteran’s Treatment Court is a collaborative effort between the W.N.Y. Veterans Project, Buffalo Police Department, The Buffalo Veteran’s Administration Health Care System, The Buffalo Criminal Courts, The Buffalo Drug and Mental Health Treatment Courts, Erie County Pre-trial Services and the C.O.U.R.T.S Program- </li></ul><ul><li>( C ourt O utreach U nit: R eferral and T reatment S ervice). </li></ul>
  4. 5. Our Mission To successfully habilitate veterans by diverting them from the traditional criminal justice system and providing them with the tools they need in order to lead a productive and law-abiding lifestyle. Our Goal Our program’s goal is to reduce the veterans’ inappropriate behavior while helping them turn their lives around. We will find them, offer them assistance, assess their needs, manage their care and help them solve their problems.
  5. 6. Our Objective To provide Veterans with substance abuse, alcoholism and mental health treatment coupled with academic/vocational skills improvement, while actively assisting with residential, outpatient and/or transitional services leading to job placement and job retention.
  6. 7. OPERATION <ul><li>Buffalo’s Veterans Treatment Court diverts eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness charged with typically felony or misdemeanor non-violent criminal offense, to a specialized criminal court docket. </li></ul>
  7. 8. EARLY IDENTIFICATION <ul><li>Veterans are identified through evidence based screening and assessments. They voluntarily participate in a judicially supervised treatment plan that a team of court staff, veteran health care professionals, veteran peer mentors, AOD health care professionals and mental health professionals develop with the veteran. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Unique Components <ul><li>Court entirely of Veterans </li></ul><ul><li>In Court: Veterans Health Care Worker(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Veteran Mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Therapeutic Environment </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid Drug & Mental Health Court </li></ul>
  9. 10. V.A. Health Care Worker <ul><li>DONNA LEIGH , Social Work Executive Formerly-(SATS.) Tel # 716-862-3100. Tamekia Slaughter, Social Worker </li></ul><ul><li>Liaison </li></ul><ul><li>Obtaining VA Releases of Information </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitating VA linkages for services </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinating and providing VA status report regarding Tx, toxs, appointments, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Case management & crisis management </li></ul>
  10. 11. FEDERAL OFFICE OF VETERANS BENEFIT AFFAIRS <ul><li>Steven Doherty and Timothy Dowell , Veteran Service Representatives </li></ul><ul><li>Liaison </li></ul><ul><li>Obtaining VA Releases of Information </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitate processing or review of Pension Disability Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Process review of potential errors or corrections on veterans DD214 </li></ul>
  11. 12. Veteran Mentors “ Leave no one behind”
  12. 14. Veteran Mentors Role <ul><li>Coach </li></ul><ul><li>Facilitator </li></ul><ul><li>Advisor </li></ul><ul><li>Sponsor </li></ul><ul><li>Support </li></ul>
  13. 15. KEY COMPONENTS <ul><li>Key Components adapted from Drug Treatment and Mental Health Treatment Courts </li></ul>
  14. 16. <ul><li>“ To put it bluntly, we know that drug courts outperform virtually all other strategies that have been attempted for drug-involved offenders.” </li></ul><ul><li>Marlowe, DeMatteo, Festinger (2003) </li></ul>Lessons Learned From Drug Court
  15. 17. Cost Benefit of Drug Court Drug Courts Save Tax Dollars NY: $254 million saved CA: $43 million saved TX: $9.43 savings for every $1 spent OR: $10 savings for every $1 spent WA: Saved $6,779 per drug court client
  16. 18. National Resolutions <ul><li>The National District Attorneys Association </li></ul><ul><li>The National Sheriffs Association </li></ul><ul><li>International Association of Chiefs of Police </li></ul><ul><li>The National Association of County Organizations </li></ul><ul><li>Governors Highway Safety Association </li></ul><ul><li>Mothers Against Drunk Driving </li></ul>
  17. 19. ‘‘ Services, Education, and Rehabilitation for Veterans Act’’ or the ‘‘SERV Act’’. <ul><li>S. 3379: Introduced July 31, 2008 by Senators KERRY (MA.), Ms. MURKOWSKI (AK) and Mr. DURBIN (IL.), which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary </li></ul><ul><li>H. R. 7149: Introduced SEPTEMBER 26 , 2008 by Congresspersons KENNEDY (R.I.), Mr. HIGGINS (N.Y.), and Ms. SUTTON (OH.) which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. </li></ul><ul><li>-Grants for Veterans Treatment Courts- </li></ul>
  18. 20. CONTACT INFORMATION <ul><li>JUDGE ROBERT RUSSELL </li></ul><ul><li>716-845-2623 </li></ul><ul><li>JACK O’CONNOR, Mentor Coor. </li></ul><ul><li>716-858-7345 </li></ul><ul><li>DONNA LEIGH, VA SWE </li></ul><ul><li>716-862-3100 </li></ul><ul><li>HANK PIROWSKI, Project Director </li></ul><ul><li>716-845-2695 </li></ul>