By Roxie Hammill
Veterans whose struggles with civilian life land them in the criminal court system will have a new alternative to jail time in Johnson County. Beginning today, they can come to a special Veterans Treatment Court and get support and supervision from a team of court staff and mentors who will help them through a diversion program.
The special court, the first of its kind in Kansas, is scheduled to begin with an opening ceremony today at the Johnson County Courthouse. Once the flag ceremony and remarks from Kansas Chief Justice Lawton Nuss and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe are finished, the court will be open for its first docket of eight to 10 cases, said District Court Judge Timothy McCarthy.
McCarthy, who researched and organized the court, will hear veterans’ cases every other Wednesday afternoon.
The court is being started with a dual purpose — getting treatment for veterans who need it and reducing the population of low-level offenders doing jail time, McCarthy said. The focus will be on veterans who have developed mental health or substance abuse problems as a result of their service.