VA courts- veterans day special

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The Maricopa County Court system includes over a dozen courts for the homeless or crimes like DUI’s. Every court is different and has their own set of rules and different procedures.  Producer Alyssa Adams and photographer Rob Mcjanet take a look at a specialty court that focuses on veterans.

NEXT WE LOOK AT A COURT THAT FOCUSES ON VETERANS. THE MARICOPA COUNTY COURT SYSTEM INCLUDES OVER A DOZEN COURTS FOR THE HOMELESS OR CRIMES LIKE DUI'S. EVERY COURT IS DIFFERENT AND HAS THEIR OWN SET OF RULES AND DIFFERENT PROCUDURES. PRODUCER ALISA ADAMS AND PHOTOGRAPHER ROB MCJANET TAKES A LOOK AT A SPECIALTY COURT THAT FOCUSES ON VETERANS.
-PACKAGE-
WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AROUND THE BRIDGE.

RAY PEREZ AND HIS PARTNER FROM THE VETERAN REFERRAL SYSTEM ARE LOOKING FOR THEIR COMRADES.

DO YOU KNOW IF THERE ARE VETERANS IN THE AREA?

THEY KNOW THEY'LL FIND VETERANS THAT NEED A HAND.

HEY, BROTHER. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

THEY'LL HELP THEM UP.

NIP THAT HAS SERVED THEIR COUNTRY, THEY HAVE THE POTENTIAL OF BEING A GOOD PERSON. WE MAKE BAD CHOICES IN OUR LIFE AND GO DOWN DARK ROADS AND SOME GET LOST AND DON'T FIND OUR WAY BACK.

RAY HAS BEEN DOWN THAT ROAD. HE FOUND LIFE OUTSIDE THE CONFINES OF THE MILITARY WASN'T EASY.

I STARTED DRINKING HEAVILY WHEN I GOT OUT ALMOST IMMEDIATELY. I WAS FUNCTIONAL BECAUSE OF MY DRINKING I WAS ON A PATH TO SELF DESTRUCTION. EVENTUALLY, THE ALCOHOL CONSUMED MY LIFE, I WENT THROUGH A DIVORCE, LOST MY CHILDREN, LOST MY HOME AND PRETTY MUCH QUIT, GAVE UP ON LIFE.

RAY WAS HOMELESS, IN AND OUT OF JAIL, AND THEN HE LANDED HERE. IN THIS COURT THERE WERE STRICT RULES.

YOU HAVE REPEATEDLY VIOLATED THE COURT'S ORDERS.

RESPECT IS REQUIRED AND GIVEN.

IT'S COURAGEOUS TO ASK FOR HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT.

SOMETIMES THERE ARE SECOND AND THIRD CHANCES.

I KNOW THERE HAS BEEN A STRUGGLE THIS MONTH. I WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT HOW YOU THINK THINGS ARE GOING AND HOW WE CAN HELP YOU.

I LIKE THE TEAM APPROACH AND EVERYONE'S IN THERE AND THE COMMON GOAL IS TO GET THE VETS THEIR RESOURCES BACK ON THEIR FEET. THEY HAVE HAD A PERIOD OF STABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE SERVICE. IT'S STILL THERE. IT'S A MATTER OF GETTING IT BACK.

TIFFANY GRISSOM SAYS THE IDEA BEGAN IN 2010 WHEN THEY SAW MORE AND MORE VETS ENTERING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM WITH A UNIQUE SET OF PROBLEMS.

THE BIGGEST PROBLEM, COMBAT VETERANS OR NOT, THEY ARE USED TO STRUCTURE. THEY ARE USED TO ORDER. SOMETIMES WE RUN INTO PROBLEMS TRYING TO GET THEM ONBOARD, TO BUY IN TO GET THE TREATMENT THEY NEED.

DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE ARE ALMOST UNIVERSAL WITH THE VETERANS IN THIS COURT.

THERE IS NO MEDICAL CONDITION YOU HAVE THAT IS GOING TO BE HELPED BY METHAMPHETAMINES.

THIS IS THE BIGGEST THING DRUGS AND ALCOHOL IS THE PROBLEM. THEY ARE SELF MEDICATING, MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES, PTSD, ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION. NOW THEY ARE IN THE LEGAL SYSTEM. THEY ARE SELF MEDICATING BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GETTING THE PROPER TREATMENT THEY NEED OR HAVEN'T BOUGHT IT, IT YET.

HERE THEY BUY IN OR GO TO JAIL.

WHILE SYMPATHETIC -- DOESN'T TOLERATE EXCUSES.

YOU HAVE TO FIND THE MONEY TO TEST.

THEY MAKE A DEAL, GET A SUSPENDED SENTENCE SERVING PROBATION INSTEAD OF JAIL TIME, BUT THEY HAVE TO ANSWER TO THE TEAM ON A REGULAR BASIS.

IT'S NOT A FREE RIDE IN VETERAN'S COURT AT ALL. SOMETIMES THE VETS COME IN AND SAY THEY ARE GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ME AND NOT HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE. THERE ARE REQUIREMENTS. THE ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCE IS PRISON. WE WANT TO AVOID THAT AT ALL COSTS.

THE WEEKLY COURT HEARINGS INCLUDE THE VA, PROPAGES OFFICERS AND LAWYERS FOR THE VETS. WHAT IS MISSING IS PROSECUTORS. ON THIS TEAM THERE ARE NO ADVERSARIES.

IT'S AN AMAZING JOURNEY.

VETS ARE IDENTIFIED AND CHOSEN FOR THE COURT BASED ON A NUMBER OF CRITERIA. THE TEAM CHOOSES SOME OF THE TOUGHEST CASES. RAY WAS ONE OF THOSE.

HE WAS THE VET THAT I TALKED ABOUT THAT WE COULDN'T GET HIM TO BUY IN. HE WAS SAYING THE RIGHT THINGS.

I THOUGHT THAT COURT WAS COOL, EASY. THEY THANKED ME FOR MY SERVICE, FOR DOING GOOD THINGS. THEY WERE GIVING ME GIFT CARDS. I THOUGHT IT WAS A WALK IN THE PARK.

THEN HE LANDED BACK IN JAIL, AND HE KNEW HE PROBABLY WOULDN'T GET MORE CHANCES.

THAT COURT ORDERED ME TO MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT.

DIAGNOSED WITH PTSD HE LEARNED THE TOOLS TO WALK HIS WAY BACK.

AFTER LOSING EVERYTHING, I WANTED TO START CHANGING BECAUSE I WANTED TO. I WAS TIRED OF THE REVOLVING DOOR AND THE CHAOS. I THOUGHT, I'M GOING TO GIVE THIS A SHOT BECAUSE I WANTED TO.

YOU WILL STILL FIND RAY IN THE VETERAN'S COURT EVERY MONTH. NOW HE'S A PEER SUPPORT SPECIALIST, HELPING OTHER VETS BUY INTO THE IDEA TO HELP THEMSELVES.

IS THERE ANYTHING YOU NEED US TO HELP YOU CARRY.

IF HE'S IN COURT OR ON THE STREET, HE LIVES BY THE WARRIOR ETHOS, NEVER LEAVE A MAN BEHIND.

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THE SUCCESS RATE FOR PROBATIONERS IN THE VETERAN'S COURT IS 83% COMPARED TO 70% FOR THOSE SERVING STANDARD PROBATION. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS, COMMENT AND CONCERNS AT "ARIZONA HORIZON."


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