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Harris County Expands Veterans’ Court To Include Misdemeanors

Sometimes veterans get in trouble with the law. And many times it can be attributed to a mental health issue or a substance abuse problem. Harris County expands a program that helps keep them out of the criminal justice system.

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Devon Anderson
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson

Arthur Davis’ 22-years as a Marine included doing battle in Iraq. But when he came home, he found the streets of Houston more challenging than the field of battle, leaving him with indelible scars.

“You’re dealing with PTSD and you start drinking to cope with it, and the end result was a drug and alcohol addiction and incarceration in the county jail here, facing a felony for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon,” Davis said.

He thought he had messed up his life.

Instead he became one of the first graduates of Harris County Veterans’ Court program. It’s a program that helps honorably discharged veterans with mental health or substance abuse problems who are arrested for a crime. The goal is to get them help and keep them out of jail.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said the program is being expanded to include misdemeanors. She says specialty courts are becoming more common. 

“When you recognize the offender as an individual, who has unique issues and unique problems, and you address those, you can make a tremendous impact in their lives,” Anderson said.

Those who successfully complete the program are able to have any charges expunged. About 150 violators have gone through the Veterans’ Court so far.