SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The first court for veterans in Syracuse is now open. It was created to take certain cases of justice-involved veterans, and offer them mental health treatment and other services instead of putting them in jail.
The new court in the Fifth Judicial District is a partnership with the New York State court system, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick’s office, Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon’s office, the Onondaga County Bar Association, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Not every case will qualify, only justice-involved veterans charged with non-violent misdemeanors and felonies who may be suffering from addiction, mental health issues, and other combat-related disorders.
They will be evaluated by a representative from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the court’s coordinator to determine his or her eligibility. Veterans must also plead guilty and comply with court-imposed conditions to be considered.
“We’re gonna get this person back on their feet, back with their families, back paying taxes, back doing their job, out of the criminal justice system,” said Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick.
Leading the charge is Judge Ted Limpert, a veteran himself. “It’s exciting to be a veteran who is actually gonna be able to help veterans,” he said.
Judge Limpert says the key to success in a court like is, is the mentors, all of them veterans.
“Veterans have a certain comradery, there’s a lingo, that way they can relate,” said Judge Limpert.
Giving them resources and support to get back on their feet and back on the right path.
“We should all be appreciative of the service veterans give to our country,” said District Attorney Fitzpatrick.
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