An exploratory group is studying the possibility of a veterans court in Maricopa County. The exploratory group is lead by Superior Court Judge Kenneth Fields.
Initially, the group is seeking to determine how many veterans are incarcerated in the county. An initial finding showed that 7% of adults on probation during the first six months of 2008 – more than 400 people – were veterans. These numbers are expected to increase as there are nearly 600,000 veterans living in Arizona and more returning from Afghanistan and Iraq.
The court is not expected to produce additional costs to the court system. However, it has faced some opposition from the County Attorney’s Office who has questioned whether suspects should be treated differently because of their veteran status and also what types of crimes – such as serious felonies or only lower-level crimes – would be included. The County Attorney’s Office has previously opposed other specialty courts.
For more information, see: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/news/articles/2009/01/06/20090106veteranscourt1226.html.