Veterans Treatment Court at Leighton Courthouse will benefit from $350,000 grant to aid Veteran Restorative Justice Project

Released On 11/11/2021

A new $350,000 grant for the University of Chicago’s Veteran Restorative Justice Project will provide aid to the Veterans Treatment Court in the Leighton Criminal Court Building, which helps veterans who have criminal cases, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced on Thursday.

The two-year grant from the The Robert R. McCormick Foundation to the University of Chicago will support the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities, which is operated out of the University of Chicago’s Equal Opportunity Programs. OMAC will work in partnership with the Veterans Treatment Court at the Criminal Courthouse, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, City

Colleges of Chicago, and other organizations. Judge Evans and OMAC made the announcement on Thursday afternoon at a ceremony at the International House Assembly Hall in Hyde Park.

“I am honored to announce this new partnership between the University of Chicago and the Circuit Court of Cook County to help veterans who are struggling and are trying to rebuild their lives after coming into contact with the criminal justice system,” Judge Evans said. “Our heroic veterans stood firm in shoring up our nation’s safety, security and freedom. Now we have to help them find productive lives outside of the service.”

“I am very happy with the collaboration between the University of Chicago and those veterans whose struggles after military service require special resources to allow them to complete their mission with dignity,” said the Hon. William Hooks, Criminal Division judge and presiding judge of the Division’s Veterans Treatment Court, who is also a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel.

Veterans Treatment Courts are part of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s system of “problem-solving courts,” which also include Drug Treatment Courts and Mental Health Treatment Courts. These courts are in the Leighton Criminal Court Building as well as in all the branch suburban courts.

Also known as specialty or therapeutic courts, these courts seek to help low-level criminal defendants suffering from an underlying mental health, social or substance abuse problem from becoming repeat offenders. Problem-solving courts achieve this goal by providing treatment and intensive supervision.

The partnership between the University of Chicago and the Circuit Court of Cook County will allow for military-affiliated students to conduct research and summer internships alongside staff at the Veterans Treatment Court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building and Jesse Brown VA Medical Center staff on Chicago’s South Side to support veterans before the court system. The help will come through various parts of the University of Chicago’s professional and academic units:

- The Chicago Booth School of Business’s Booth Armed Forces Group will provide financial counseling and planning to veterans;

- The University of Chicago Law School’s Law School Veterans group will provide legal aid on VA compensation claims and appeal support and discharge upgrade support;

- The Harris School of Public Policy Military-Affiliated Students of Harris (also known as MASH) group will identify and make policy recommendations to the court, state legislature and U.S. Congress;

- The Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice will provide academic research and mental health case work support;

- The Social Sciences Division will research socioeconomic barriers for veterans and identify ways in which the community can better support them, including referrals for services that address homelessness, food insecurities, workforce development and employment, transition and re-integration.


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