Local Veterans Trauma Court Recognized as National Model

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Colorado’s 4th Judicial District is being recognized for the work of its Veterans Trauma Court. The court serves vets in El Paso and Teller Counties, and has been selected as one of four “mentor” courts around the country.

The local VTC was created in 2009. Since then, it has enrolled more than 350 veterans convicted of misdemeanors and low level felonies linked to Trauma Spectrum Disorders, including PTSD. The program aims to address those underlying psychological issues, says Judge David Shakes, who oversees the court.

"Veterans courts are much more focused on the concept of therapeutic jurisprudence," he explains. "By that I mean, what can the courts do to improve the success in rehabilitation? The byproduct of that is less money spent in jails and prisons, and fewer victims."

The 4th District Court will serve as a model for other districts around the country looking to develop similar programs. Judge Shakes cites the collaborative nature of the court and buy-in from the local community as reasons for the recognition.