Washington University Law School Open Scholarship
"Although veterans treatment courts themselves are a recent and developing innovation, veteran status and its intersection with criminal sentencing considerations has an increasingly substantial legal basis to draw on. Prior to the expansion of problem-solving courts to reach veterans, many state-level trial court judges already considered military service-related disorders as potential mitigating factors. More recently, several states have either passed or proposed legislation designating veteran or active military status as a statutory mitigating factor, and current federal sentencing guidelines follow a 2009 Supreme Court decision affirming the proper role of a defendant’s military history in the penalty phase. Given the weight of political and legal decisions supporting veteran status as a mitigating factor in criminal cases, veterans treatment courts might ultimately demonstrate the advantages of treatment as an alternative to incarceration" (p. 310). This paper is divided into five parts. Part I—Introduction. Part II—development of veterans treatment courts; the veterans treatment court model; policy rationale for veterans courts; and controversy. Part III—state statutes in North Carolina, California, Minnesota, and other notable state bills; federal courts' consideration of veteran status—Porter v. McCollum, Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and non-statutory state sentencing practices. Part IV—Analysis: veterans treatment courts are correspond with current criminal sentencing; veterans treatment courts are good public policy; and how veterans treatment courts should proceed in consideration of criticisms. Part V—Conclusion.