Porter County Superior Court Judge Julia Jent launched the first veteran’s treatment court in Northwest Indiana and the second in the state certified as a problem-solving court for veterans. This model serves veterans who are often struggling with addiction, mental health, and other issues through a hybrid of treatment services designed for each veteran’s needs aimed at diverting them from the traditional criminal court system.
She is a veteran herself who has family members who served. So she is familiar with the issues facing veterans upon return to civilian life, complicated by multiple tours of duty served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Envisioning a better way to address the needs of justice for veterans, she was inspired when she heard Judge Robert Russell of Buffalo, N.Y. discuss the nation’s first veteran’s treatment court several years ago.
Launched in September, 2011, she convened a team of stakeholders representing the local criminal justice system, law enforcement, veteran serving organizations, treatment providers and local veterans. Veterans voluntarily agree to participate and undergo specific treatment options based upon an assessment that take from one to two years to complete before their record is expunged. The program is aided by mentors who volunteer their services and even include graduates. Judge Jent oversees this program in addition to the adult drug court and her regular court docket.
She was nominated by Jackie Algozine, Porter County PACT, Inc.