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TMCNet:  ADVISORY (Tomorrow): Whitehouse to Hold Hearing on Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts

[July 18, 2011]

ADVISORY (Tomorrow): Whitehouse to Hold Hearing on Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts

Jul 18, 2011 (Congressional Documents and Publications/ContentWorks via COMTEX) -- July 18, 2011 Contact: Seth Larson (202) 228-6293 Whitehouse to Hold Hearing on Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts Hearing will Include Testimony from Martin Sheen and RI District Court Chief Judge LaFazia Washington, DC - Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will chair a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism to examine the success and cost-effectiveness of special drug and veterans treatment courts in rehabilitating low-level offenders and protecting public safety. The hearing, which is entitled "Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts: Seeking Cost-Effective Solutions for Protecting Public Safety and Reducing Recidivism," will feature testimony from advocates and experts for alternative law enforcement approaches, including acclaimed actor Martin Sheen and Chief Judge Jeanne LaFazia of the Rhode Island District Court.


In order to better handle the cases of non-violent drug offenders in a way that can treat the underlying causes of criminal behavior, reduce prison costs, and help the individuals become healthy, law-abiding members of their community, Whitehouse fought successfully during his time as Rhode Island's Attorney General to establish the state's first drug court. These courts require participants to commit to intensive substance abuse treatment programs, frequent court appearances, and regular random testing for drug use. Individuals going through drug courts are rewarded for doing well, but sanctioned if they do not satisfy the obligations imposed by the court. Studies by the Department of Justice and the Government Accountability Office have shown that drug courts reduce recidivism, lower crime, and save money.

In recent years, some jurisdictions have also developed special courts for treating military veterans. These courts, frequently based on the drug court model or operating within drug courts, recognize that low-level offenses by military veterans are often linked to complications from combat related trauma, such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Rhode Island has started such a pilot program for veterans who enter the criminal justice system. The program, led by Chief Judge LaFazia, works to identify and address the underlying cause of criminal behavior by referring veterans to treatment programs or providing other alternatives that can keep them out of jail and help them to lead safer, more productive lives, while protecting public safety. Earlier this year U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder joined Senator Whitehouse in Rhode Island to learn more about the program.

EVENT: Sheldon Whitehouse Chairs Hearing on "Drug and Veterans Treatment Courts: Seeking Cost-Effective Solutions for Protecting Public Safety and Reducing Recidivism" WHEN: TOMORROW, July 19, 2011 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226 Washington, DC Witness List: Panel I The Honorable Benjamin B. Tucker Deputy Director of State, Local and Tribal Affairs White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Washington, DC Panel II Martin Sheen Los Angeles, CA The Honorable Jeanne E. LaFazia Chief Judge Rhode Island District Court Providence, RI Douglas B. Marlow, J.D., Ph.D.

Chief of Science, Law and Policy National Association of Drug Court Professionals Alexandria, VA

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