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Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

New El Paso County court puts veterans in therapy, not prison - The Denver Post

New El Paso County court puts veterans in therapy, not prison - The Denver Post

COLORADO SPRINGS — Leonard Smith, who became addicted to drugs after being shot in the leg during Operation Desert Storm, says he'd probably be deep in prison somewhere if it weren't for the El Paso County Veterans' Court that officially opened for business Thursday.

Smith, a 45-year-old veteran of Beirut and Iraq, faces two felony charges for drug abuse and impersonation of a physician for calling in phony prescriptions for himself for Oxycontin, Percocet and other painkillers.

Presiding District Judge Ron Crowder, himself a two-star general in the Colorado National Guard and a combat-decorated paratrooper in Vietnam, on Thursday sent Smith to a halfway house for veterans and ordered him to undergo a year-long regimen of therapy and counseling.

If Smith completes the difficult assignment, his record will be clean and he will avoid prison.

It's a new approach for dealing with veterans who have led relatively clean lives until suffering traumatic disorders in combat.

Many of them return to society with intense stress and emotional problems that lead them either into crimes or behaviors that prison will not cure but that might be corrected with the proper rehabilitation program.

"We've seen a spiral of self-medicating and repeat problems among veterans," Crowder said. "We've set up this court not just because it's the right thing to do for our veterans but to reduce their recidivism rate."

El Paso County District Attorney Dan May called the court part of the cost of freedom.

"As our soldiers come back with needs, some of them are met and some are not. Those whose needs aren't met can end up in the criminal system," he said. "This is a voluntary court that the veterans have to commit to for treatment. They have to volunteer to undergo treatment not for the symptoms but for the underlying issues.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This man got addicted because he got shot in the leg in the military??? Why hasnt the VA taken care of him?? Why send him to the dam DOC which doesnt know how to do anything in Colorado except punish him. Half way houses are run by the doc.