Rehabilitative veterans court to open in Stevens County
Next month, veterans in Stevens County will have access to a rehabilitative criminal court similar to one that has operated in Spokane County since 2010.
Multiple agencies within the Stevens County criminal justice system have collaborated on the project, which has been in development for several years. Superior Court Judge Gina Tveit will oversee a docket beginning Dec. 1 catering exclusively to veterans with problems “making adjustments to civilian life,” according to Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen.
Tveit credited Spokane County Veterans Court Judge Vance Peterson and Fred Aronow, a retired judge who directs the Spokane Veterans Forum outreach program, with helping develop the Stevens County program.
“Their guidance and enthusiasm have been greatly appreciated,” Tveit said in a statement.
The Spokane Veterans Forum graduated 95 participants this spring, said coordinator Kathy Haugland. Of those, only three veterans were arrested again, she said, saving taxpayers an estimated $2 million in legal costs.
Offenders accepted into the Stevens County program will be assigned a mentor and must attend monthly sessions at the Spokane Veterans Forum, in addition to following parole requirements and attending all necessary court dates.
The goal of the project is rehabilitation, both Tveit and Rasmussen said.
“After completing the program, the veteran will be better equipped to handle the issues that arise in more productive and acceptable ways,” Rasmussen said in a written statement announcing the new court.
Applicants for the Stevens County court will be screened by volunteers John and Lorie Goldsmith, Tveit said. The Goldsmiths are the parents of Colville High School alumnus Sgt. Wyatt Goldsmith, an Army Special Forces combat medic who was killed during operations in Afghanistan in 2011.