MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Courts across the state of Alabama are scaling back their days of operation. At the same time, a Madison County judge has agreed to take on a bigger case load. She’s doing it to help veterans one-by-one.
Thousands have returned home from war with injuries or suffering from mental illnesses. Many live with that pain inside the Madison County Detention Center.
“We have several goals. Two are preventing recidivism behavior and to hold those accountable for their crimes,” said Assistant District Attorney Jay Town.
The Madison County District Attorney’s Office and courts are teaming up to start a Veterans Court.
“Not only is this the right thing to do for our veterans. It is also the right thing to do for our community and our taxpayers,” said Judge Ruth Ann Hall.
Judge Ruth Ann Hall believes the specialized court will save Madison County thousands of dollars in jail housing costs.
Judge R.A. Hall says 22 veterans commit suicide a day and one in five from Operations Enduring and Iraqi freedom is diagnosed with mental illnesses.
She says the purpose of the veterans court is not to provide an excuse, but to offer alternative to veterans accused of non-violent crimes.
“This is not an escape responsibility program. This is a program that wants to hold people accountable, but recognizes many of these folks have a mental illness because of their service to their country,” added Judge R.A. Hall.
WHNT NEWS 19 has learned 156 veterans are currently booked in the Madison County Detention Center.