Veterans Get Help, Chance at Clean Record in New Treatment Court

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The Shelby County Public Defender’s Office is part of a new, four-month old program to guide some veterans toward treatment and away from prison.  Shelby County’s Veterans Court was launched this past July and is now monitoring more than 20 veterans.

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Assistant Public Defender Lynn Rowe

Lynn Rowe is the assistant Shelby County public defender assigned to Veterans Court.  She says the court uses resources through the Veterans Administration that connect her clients to existing services.

“Veterans are different,” says Rowe. “There is more specific treatment for what they deal with, like post traumatic stress, anger management issues, substance abuse. We are trying to link them with providers for more specific needs.”

Each Wednesday, Rowe, an assistant district attorney, Judge Anderson, the court coordinator, mentors, and service representatives review the progress of each client. If the client successfully completes one year of treatment, his criminal charge can be expunged.

Before joining the Veterans Court, Rowe was a dedicated assistant public defender to Shelby County’s Drug Court. She says the two courts are similar in that they focus on treatment and diversion from incarceration.

It’s a comprehensive approach to justice she finds rewarding.

“I feel like I can follow up on them more and speak with their family members more, ” says Rowe. “I’m able to know more about them.. and develop a relationship with them.” 

Read more about how Shelby County’s Veterans Court works in this full report by the Commercial Appeal. 

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