On Wednesday, May 16, 2012, an Order was entered before the Honorable Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes establishing the Will County Veteran's and Service Member's Court. The first applicant into the program was formally accepted in open court on this date.
Mission Statement and Recognition
The Veteran's and Service Member's Court, like Drug Court, aims to assist military personnel (past or present) accused of a crime by linking them with the proper mental health, substance abuse, and other resources available. The Court recognizes that they have provided an invaluable service to our country. The Court recognizes the unique circumstances and experiences of the military personnel, both in peace-time and at times of war or conflict. In doing so, some may suffer the effects of, including but not limited to, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, depression, drug and alcohol dependency, or addiction and co-occurring mental illness. As a result, some veterans or active duty service members come into contact with the criminal justice system and are charged with felony or misdemeanor offenses. The Court's goal is to provide veterans or current service members individualized mental health, mental disorder and/or substance abuse treatment through judicial intervention utilizing a collaborative, non-adversarial approach.
To be eligible, the participant:
- Must be currently serving in a branch of the military or discharged from the military under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Must not currently be charged or not have been convicted of any of the following crimes within the past ten (10) years, excluding incarceration time:
- 1st degree murder
- 2nd degree murder
- Predatory criminal sexual assault
- Aggravated criminal sexual assault
- Criminal sexual assault
- Armed robbery
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated kidnapping
- Aggravated stalking
- Any offense involving the discharge of a firearm
- Participant has not within three (3) years completed or been discharged from a Veteran's or Service Member's Court
- Must be a Will County resident
- Diagnosis of a mental health disorder and/or participant must admit to having a drug or alcohol program and be willing to accept treatment recommendations
The Court has partnered with various service agencies, including the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA), Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, the Veterans Assistance Commission of Will County, the Center for Correctional Concerns, the Will County Health Department, and other organizations who tailor their services to the needs of veterans.
The Will County Public Defender's Office works diligently to secure treatment over incarceration for our clients accused of non-violent offenses. With the opening of our Veteran's and Service Member's Court, we now have another avenue with local, state, and federal resources available, to seek treatment for our brave men and women who have served our country so proudly.
Participants can be referred to the Court by their attorneys. The applicants may be required to sign releases to obtain any necessary records. Participants may be required to plead guilty to the charges. They are to find employment and follow any recommendations for treatment. Participants must remain drug free and submit to random drug testing. Upon successful completion of the program, all charges will be dismissed.
Veteran's and Service Member's Court is presided over by the Honorable Judge Carla Alessio-Policandriotes. Representatives of the Will County Public Defender's Office include Jaya Varghese and Shenonda Tisdale, Assistant Public Defenders.
For Veterans and Service Members in need of assistance, please contact your local Department of Veteran's Affairs office or their crisis line at (800) 273-8255, then press 1. Their website is www.veteranscrisisline.net.
Application to Veteran's and Service Member's Court: click here