While they have earned Americans’ respect and honor, veterans are often victim to devastating problems after their service. Tragically, chronic homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health disorders disproportionally affect those who served in the Armed Forces. In Texas, Lubbock County has determined to fight these problems where they most frequently manifest: the criminal justice system.

Instead of continuing to funnel minor veteran offenses through the court system that both leaves them with a criminal record and frequently devolves into a costly and tragic cycle, Lubbock will now be offering a restorative justice option.

Lubbock already has a greater experience and understanding in alternative justice forms, with a robust restorative justice program. Restorative justice is an alternative to formal court intervention, instead involving mediation between the victim and the offender. These discussions have several other advantages– like fewer fees and fines, which result in greater victim reimbursement. In addition, victims express greater satisfaction with the results of these restorative justice programs. Best of all, they lower the number of repeat offenses.

To learn more about restorative justice, Right on Crime policy analyst Derek Cohen has further information provided here.

The program in Lubbock is offered to veterans who have been involved in misdemeanors or occasionally felonies if the District Attorney consents. If substance abuse or mental health counseling is needed, it will be provided as well. To add to the focus on veterans and provide greater understanding and support all mediators and counselors are veterans as well.

Read more here.