Kitsap County's plan to institute a veterans court seems to have inspired a surprising amount of push-back.
Personally, I’m fully in favor of instituting a veterans court, but the principle of equal justice under the law would seem to be a difficult one to negotiate.
The law, of course, is all about precedent, and there is a precedent we can point to: drug court. Drug courts, as I understand them, are grounded in a twofold premise: (1) that drug addiction is an illness in need of intervention and treatment rather than incarceration and (2) that we don’t need to keep overcrowding our prisons with non-violent offenders.
Are veterans courts grounded in essentially the same presumption—that non-violent veteran offenders are likely to be suffering from some degree of PTSD in need of intervention and treatment rather than incarceration? If so, we should make that argument, pointing to the drug-court precedent.As a Vietnam veteran myself, however, I do see a downside to pressing for veterans courts. I recall how Vietnam veterans were widely portrayed in the media as dangerously deranged. I would hate to think that our good intentions may contribute to stereotyping our current generation of veterans as walking time bombs, ready to explode at any minute, or even as unhinged and helpless. --EFP