Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010 6:18 am | (5) Comments
RACINE - In misdemeanor court, Judge John Jude has seen Iraq and Afghanistan veterans stand before him for sentencing.
Some were there for drinking and driving. Others were there for domestic abuse, said Jude, a Racine County Circuit Court judge.
With more and more soldiers returning from active combat, Jude said he is worried the number of soldiers in the criminal justice system will increase and he wants to make sure the courts are on the front end to help the soldiers, he said.
Especially if they are dealing with substance abuse issues, he wants to make sure they are getting the resources they need to prevent them from returning to the courtroom, he said. First, that requires identifying people who are veterans, he said. He said sometimes a person's veteran status comes up at sentencing, but not all the time.
There are resources out there for veterans that are not available for others, he said.
To help start working on the issue, Jude said he is meeting with other judges and attorneys in early December to talk about their experiences with veterans in the system.
"It is an issue we want to talk about," Jude said.
He said the substance abuse he has heard about with others is more than marijuana. It's cocaine and heroin, he said.
Besides meeting with judges and attorneys, Jude has put out a call for assistance to the county's volunteer center to find mentors who may be able to help soldiers who are struggling with substance abuse.
At this point Jude said he is not sure of how extensive the issue is. But he is working to learn more to provide assistance where it can be provided.