The Minnesota Senate unanimously approved The Veterans Restorative Justice Act, which aims to divert at-risk veterans toward probation and social service programs instead of jail time when they commit certain less-severe crimes.
“I know firsthand the challenges that can accompany military service,” said Senator Bruce Anderson. “Everyone’s experience is different, so we are committed to providing veterans with all the tools and support they need to overcome their trauma so they can reestablish themselves as contributing members in their communities. We will not abandon our service members when they return home after enduring so much to protect our freedoms. I am proud to support this initiative.”
Several counties already have veterans treatment courts that help veterans receive treatment for their less severe crimes instead of prison. The Veterans Restorative Justice Act is not a mandate; it simply provides a statutory set of guidelines for veterans' treatment in courts.
The bill recommends veterans be eligible for the diversionary program if their offense is below a severity level 7 on the state’s sentencing grid, and that they swear that the offense was committed due to one of several factors: service-connected sexual trauma, a traumatic brain injury, PTSD, a substance abuse disorder, or mental health condition. The court will investigate all claims. Veterans would be required to plead guilty and accept the conditions of the court, including remaining sober and completing a treatment program.