(Cleveland) - The Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court has earned final certification from the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on Specialized Dockets.
In order to receive the certification, the VTC had to submit an application, undergo a site visit, and provide specific program materials in response to certification standards that went in to effect in January 2014.
Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor congratulated the VTC and Administrative and Presiding Judge John J. Russo for receiving the final certification that is valid through December of 2022. Judge Russo also presides over the VTC.
“I am so proud of the Veterans Treatment Court team,” says Judge Russo. “Being able to help people who once served our country is a great honor. Our team of coordinators, probation officers, mentors and attorneys make a huge difference in these veteran’s lives.”
Specialized dockets are courts that are dedicated to specific types of offenses or offenders and use a combination of different techniques for holding offenders accountable while also addressing the underlying causes of their behavior. There are more than 210 specialized dockets in Ohio courts dealing with issues such as drugs and alcohol, mental health, domestic violence, and human trafficking.
The standards provide a minimum level of uniform practices for specialized dockets throughout Ohio, and allow local courts to innovate and tailor to meet their community’s needs and resources.
“Specialized dockets divert offenders toward criminal justice initiatives that employ tools and tailored services to treat and rehabilitate the offender so they can become productive members of society,” said Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor. “Studies have shown this approach works by reducing recidivism while saving tax dollars.”
The certification requirements include establishing eligibility requirements, evaluating effectiveness of the specialized docket, and assembling a treatment team for implementing daily operations of the specialized docket. The team can include licensed treatment providers, law enforcement, court personnel, and is presided over by the specialized docket judge.
Along with the Veterans Treatment Court, the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court also has five Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities dockets, two Drug Counts, Recovery Court for clients diagnosed with addiction and trauma, and a Re-Entry Court for inmates granted early release from prison. The Court is also piloting a Violence Intervention Program (VIP) designed to stem gun violence and is working on a specialty docket for domestic violence.