LD 1698
PUBLIC Law, Chapter 500

Emergency Signed on 2012-03-14 00:00:00.0 - Second Regular Session - 125th Maine Legislature
Bill Tracking, Additional Documents Chamber Status

An Act To Establish Veterans Treatment Courts

Emergency preamble. Whereas,  acts and resolves of the Legislature do not become effective until 90 days after adjournment unless enacted as emergencies; and

Whereas,  studies have shown that combat service may exact a tremendous psychological toll on members of the United States Armed Forces who are faced with the constant threat of death or injury over an extended period of time; and

Whereas,  researchers have shown that a significant number of members of the United States Armed Forces who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer, as a result of their military service, mental health injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and acute stress, and injuries that affect brain function, such as traumatic brain injury; and

Whereas,  such combat-related injuries, and the use of drugs and alcohol to cope with such injuries, can lead to encounters with the criminal justice system that would not have occurred without the combat-related injuries; and

Whereas,  while the vast majority of returning members of the United States Armed Forces do not have contact with the criminal justice system, and most veterans and members of the United States Armed Forces are well-adjusted, contributing members of society, psychiatrists and law enforcement officials agree that combat-related injuries have led to instances of criminality; and

Whereas,  as a grateful State, we must continue to honor the military service of our men and women by providing them with an alternative to incarceration when feasible, permitting them instead to obtain proper treatment for mental health and substance abuse problems that have resulted from military service; and

Whereas,  this legislation needs to take effect before the expiration of the 90-day period because veterans are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq every day and need help as soon as possible, if involved in the criminal justice system, to readjust to society; and

Whereas,  in the judgment of the Legislature, these facts create an emergency within the meaning of the Constitution of Maine and require the following legislation as immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety; now, therefore,

Be it enacted by the People of the State of Maine as follows:

Sec. 1. 4 MRSA c. 8-B  is enacted to read:



§ 433 Veterans treatment courts

1 Definition.   As used in this section, unless the context otherwise indicates, "veterans treatment court" means a specialized sentencing docket in select criminal cases in which the defendant is a veteran or member of the United States Armed Forces to enable veterans agencies and social services agencies to provide treatment for that defendant. The court does not provide treatment but contracts or collaborates with experienced and expert treatment providers.
2 Chief Justice may establish.   The Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court may establish veterans treatment courts for veterans and members of the United States Armed Forces. The Supreme Judicial Court may adopt administrative orders and court rules of practice and procedure as necessary.
3 Federal funding; contracts; cooperative agreements.   The State Court Administrator, district attorneys, the Department of the Attorney General, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Health and Human Services and private service agencies may seek federal funding as it becomes available for the establishment, maintenance and expansion of veterans treatment courts and for the provision by participating agencies of treatment to participating veterans. The Administrative Office of the Courts may enter into contracts and cooperative agreements with the departments and agencies to provide treatment and other social services to participants. The departments and agencies shall collaborate and, to the extent possible, provide financial and other assistance to the judicial branch in order to establish and maintain veterans treatment courts.

Emergency clause. In view of the emergency cited in the preamble, this legislation takes effect when approved.

Effective 90 days following adjournment of the 125th Legislature, Second Regular Session, unless otherwise indicated.

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