On Thursday, September 6th, Governor Brown signed AB 2568 by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino), a bill that requires county jails to determine a veteran’s status or previous military service when they are processed after an arrest.
The change in processing at jails will connect veterans to Veteran Treatment Courts and other services at the soonest available time. Veteran Treatment Courts are a means of diversion for veterans entering into the criminal justice system and to avoid unnecessary incarceration of Veterans who have developed PTSD and other mental health issues as a result of their service. Veteran Treatment Courts lead to the treatment and counseling for many mentally ill offenders who are veterans of the U.S. military, including those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Military Sexual Trauma, substance abuse, or other mental health problems.
“California has the greatest concentration of veterans in the country and as such, we have a greater duty to serve those who have served our country,” said Assemblymember Reyes. “By inquiring about veteran-designation and military service, we can connect veterans much sooner with required medical treatments and services and potentially find alternative sentencing options that will not require incarceration. We have an extensive network of Veteran Treatment Courts and we will now ensure that our Veterans avail themselves of this option.”
Upon being elected, Assemblymember Reyes formed a Veterans Advisory Committee to discuss the needs of Veterans in the District and throughout California. The committee typically meets quarterly to share their concerns with Assemblymember Reyes.
“During our Veterans Advisory meeting we shared the stories of our veterans who were not given the opportunity to go through Veterans Court. It was wrong. Assemblymember Reyes listened to us and introduced a bill to fix the problem,” said Danny Morales.
Danny Marquez, also a member of the Veteran Advisory Committee was elated to hear of the Governor’s signature on AB 2568. “From day one Assemblymember Reyes encouraged our Veterans committee to bring forward the most relevant issues and solutions for veterans and their families. She understood the answers were within those who serve the needs of veterans on a daily basis! As a veteran who has worked with our local veterans, I am so glad to know they will be protected. I’m grateful to Assemblymember Reyes for listening to us, believing there was a solution, and acting on it!”
There are currently 33 Veteran Treatment Courts located in 29 different counties throughout the state of California with Los Angeles and Santa Barbara Counties each having two. Five counties have alternative veteran treatment courts: Amador, Kern, Nevada, Santa Cruz, and Trinity.
For more information on AB 2568 or to follow it through the legislative process, click here.