Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 1:28 pm | Fair 76º

 
 
 
 

Probation Department Gets Grant to Assist Veterans

The Santa Barbara County Probation Department has been awarded a three-year grant totaling $975,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

The grant will allow for expansion and enhancement of the Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) in Santa Barbara, which is a joint initiative among justice partners, community-based treatment providers and veterans’ service organizations.

This program will specialize in the treatment of military veterans who have become involved in the criminal justice system.

VTCs are a response to the growing trend of veterans appearing before the courts who face criminal charges stemming from substance abuse and/or mental illness. According to Justice For Vets, one in six Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer with a substance use disorder.

Additionally, 50 percent of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) do not receive treatment. These afflictions have been shown to lead to depression, joblessness and homelessness.

While other courts have served veteran populations, research has shown traditional services do not always adequately meet the needs of this population.

“Receiving this grant provides an enormous opportunity for veterans who are in the criminal justice system,” said Assistant Presiding Judge Michael J. Carrozzo.

“I would like to recognize and thank the numerous members of the VTC team, both past and present, who have worked tirelessly for years to increase the capabilities of the programs available to veterans in the Santa Barbara courts," he said. 

“The Santa Barbara VTC was established in 2012 by Judge George Eskin (since retired) in order to provide treatment to veterans rather than incarceration. The goal of VTC over the years has been to protect the community while supporting veterans,” Carrozzo said.

The grant will facilitate operational enhancement and partnership between the Probation Department, Santa Barbara County Superior Court, and a consortium of community-based organizations in collaboration with local city, county and federal veterans’ organizations and UCSB.

The community organizations include Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, New Beginnings Counseling Center and Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics.

The program will divert veteran-offenders to a specialized court docket that will offer specific, targeted resources and provide participants with the opportunity to establish clean and sober lifestyles, reduce criminality and psychiatric episodes, and improve the quality of their lives.

For information about Santa Barbara County government and the Probation Department, visit www.CountyofSb.org.

— Gina DePinto for Santa Barbara County.

 

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