GLENDALE, AZ — A new specialty court for veterans opened in the city of Glendale Friday.
The goal of the program is to help military veterans resolve any underlying issues that may have led them to face misdemeanor charges in the first place.
Glendale City Court Presiding Judge Nicholas DiPiazza said it’s a way to hopefully prevent veterans from becoming recidivists, or repeat offenders, in the criminal justice system.
“The result is a long-term result. It’s not something that you see overnight,” said Judge DiPiazza. “Over time, you don’t see the same veterans re-offending because we’ve addressed the underlying issues - the issues that have resulted in homelessness, the issues that have resulted in anger management problems, the issues that have resulted in unemployability.”
Judge DiPiazza said that would first start off with police checking boxes on their police reports that indicate whether someone is a veteran, as well as prosecutors looking at the cases they’re dealing with that involve veterans.
The City of Glendale would then work with the Veteran’s Administration to match needed services to military veterans who qualify, such as weekly counseling, drug, and alcohol testing, mental health and medical treatments, and other recovery support.
The program would be voluntary and would require the veterans to make regular court appearances before a judge.
“[Veterans] are people that have proven that they can do a very hard job and that job hurt them. It weakened them,” said Judge DiPiazza. “We want to get them well again and that’s the purpose of the program.”
A similar court exists in the east Valley, but this one in Glendale is the first of its kind on the west side.
For now, it’s exclusive to the city of Glendale. Their long-term goal, Judge DiPiazza said, is to make it a regional court and involve other nearby cities.