Veterans Court set to start in Jackson County

 By Tom Gantert

Legal News
 
Jackson County has started a Veterans Court that will provide  aid and assistance to struggling veterans.
 
The Veterans Court will be embedded as a pilot program in Jackson County Judge Susan Beebe’s already established Recovery Court, which is a 16-month program that is a sentencing alternative to jail or prison.
 
“We are open for business,” said Newell Turpel, a recovery coach in the program.
 
Veterans Court is set to begin as soon as veterans sign up for it.
 
The county has hired Mike McLain to serve as a mentor coordinator and coach for veterans entering the new court, Turpel said. McLain was trained for the position during the first week of December at a national veterans court conference in Washington, D.C.
 
The Jackson court is based on a similar veterans court in Ingham County and Washtenaw County, Turpel said. Ingham County launched its veterans court in May of 2010. The program is housed at the 54B District Court in East Lansing and involves the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Ingham County Circuit Court, the 54A, 54B and the 55th District Courts and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office and police agencies.
 
The Ingham County Veterans Treatment Court will provide mentoring by other veterans and works to address criminal behavior by treating the problems that can lead to it, such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, according to the City of East Lansing.
 
Some of the features of the program include treatment, intensive supervision, frequent judicial review hearings and graduated incentives and sanctions.
 
Jennifer Lamp, a Jackson attorney who is a public defender, said she has had two Jackson County clients transfer into the Ingham County program.
 
“I have heard nothing but good things about the program.  There are special needs for veterans and benefits that are available to them,” Lamp said.

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