Lack of access to Veteran Treatment Courts and/or alternative sentences for justice-involved and incarcerated veterans

Although the number of justice-involved and incarcerated veterans in California is not known, it is clear that not all eligible veterans are being diverted to treatment settings in Veteran Treatment Courts (VTCs) nor taking advantage of California laws, such as PC § 1001.80 and PC § 1170.9 which permit sentences to therapy instead of incarceration.

Only 53% of California counties currently have VTCs or comparable Collaborative Courts for veterans. CAVSA’s Veteran Mental Health Survey conducted in May-July 2018 found that just 40% of respondents perceived that VTCs “receive the support of relevant systems in their counties”. Even among respondents who are involved with VTCs, there was considerable confusion about their operation. Because these programs actively engage veterans to address their mental health and related problems, substantially reduce State and County jail and prison costs, and dramatically reduce recidivism among veteran offenders, CAVSA will work to expand VTC’s reach in the coming year and increase education about their efficacy.