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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 121 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 121

(By Delegates Sobonya, C. Miller, Anderson, Armstead, Ashley, Canterbury, Carmichael, Ellem, Ellington, Nelson, Overington, Sigler, Storch and Sumner)


 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the implementation of a Veterans Court to resolve the cases of veterans charged with minor criminal offenses.

    Whereas, West Virginia has a long, proud tradition of being at the forefront of states providing its sons and daughters for the defense of our country; and

    Whereas, There are now over 170,000 veterans living in this state; and

    Whereas, In recent years, a significant number of veterans returning home from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam suffer from post traumatic stress disorder, brain trauma or chemical dependency; and

    Whereas, As those veterans struggle to overcome the burden carried from service to our country, some become involved with the criminal justice system which exacerbates the other stresses with which they are coping; and

    Whereas, As they are processed through the criminal justice system, often the justice officials with whom those veterans interact have little or no military experience and limited knowledge regarding the horrors which combat veterans experience and the consequences of those experiences; and

    Whereas, Since 2008 at least forty-six special courts have been created in twenty states to address the special needs of veterans returning home from Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam charged with minor criminal offenses; and

    Whereas, The mission of these special courts is to divert eligible veteran-defendants with substance dependency and/or mental illness that are typically charged with felony or misdemeanor non-violent criminal offenses to a specialized criminal court which substitutes a treatment, problem-solving program for traditional court processing; and

    Whereas, The program aims to create a therapeutic environment that fosters rehabilitation; and

    Whereas, Results of the Veterans Courts have included lower recidivism rates than traditional criminal courts; and

    Whereas, West Virginia veterans have sacrificed much to serve our state and country and deserve special consideration in how they are rehabilitated under our criminal justice system ; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the implementation of a Veterans Court to resolve the cases of veterans charged with minor criminal offenses; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2013, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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