A bill that requires treatment courts in all state circuit courts has made its way to the Missouri Governor’s desk for signing.
House Bill 547, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City. The bill allows prosecutors to refer not only veterans, but other offenders to treatment courts. Presently, circuit courts aren’t required to provide treatment courts such as veterans’ treatment courts, adult treatment courts, DWI courts, family treatment courts and juvenile treatment courts.
This bill, however, would require each circuit court to establish a treatment court division before Aug. 28, 2021. It would also provide additional training for both court officials and prosecutors.
Preference is to be given to combat veterans. Veterans would be those who can show military service documentation of combat theater, receipt of combat service medals, receipt of imminent danger or hostile fire pay or tax benefits.
The bill would make the veterans treatment courts focus on the following: co-occurring disorders; substance abuse disorders; or mental health disorders of defendants who are military veterans or current military personnel.
The bill had some opposition, mainly based on concerns from prosecutors and defense attorneys about how violent crimes would be defined.