VETERANS’ TREATMENT COURT & FAMILY RESTORATION COURT

 

In March 2018, the DeKalb County Veterans Treatment Court began serving veterans of DeKalb County, led by Judge Kurt B. Grimm of the DeKalb Circuit Court, as an alternative to traditional case processing of veteran offenders.  The Veterans’ Court allows eligible participants the opportunity to have their charges dismissed, be granted a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor, or to not have a further sentence imposed by agreeing to complete a substance abuse/mental health treatment program, remain alcohol and drug free, meet with a veteran mentor and complete other program requirements as determined by the Veterans’ Court Team.  Participants must complete the Veterans’ Court in its entirety.  Those who may be eligible for participation are offenders who served in the Armed Forces and received an Honorable or General discharge, as well as any offender who served in the National Guard or Reserves with service in a foreign war or conflict and received an Honorable or General discharge.  However, one must not have any Level 1 or 2 felonies or A felonies.  Forcible offenses and current or past sex offenses are not eligible.

As the program grew, on October 18, 2018, the DeKalb County Veterans’ Court team decided to seek official certification from the Indiana Office of Court Services.  Certification opens up numerous grant and funding opportunities as well as training access.  On December 13, 2018, the Veterans’ Court team was notified it had been selected to participate in the Veterans’ Treatment Court Planning Initiative, which is provided through Justice for Vets, a division of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, and funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.  This training will take place in Auburn, Indiana on June 12 – 14, and an experienced team will travel to Auburn to conduct the multi-day training at absolutely no cost to the County.   The certification process for Veterans’ Court remains ongoing, but is expected to be complete not later than the early fall of 2019.  As of today, there are seven active participants in Veterans’ Court, and the stated capacity is ten.  We are consistently in need of Veteran Mentors to assist in mentoring participants.  For an application and description of the responsibilities of mentors, you may contact Ryan Hull at the DeKalb County Probation Department, 260-925-2400 or at rhull@co.dekalb.in.us or the County Website  HERE.

 

Veterans’ Court is made possible with the assistance and dedication of Judge Kevin P. Wallace of the DeKalb Superior Court I, and Judge Monte L. Brown of the DeKalb Superior Court II.  The DeKalb County Probation Department, the DeKalb County Community Corrections Program, the DeKalb County Prosecutor’s Office, the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office, the DeKalb County Veterans’ Service Office, the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, the Fort Wayne Vet Center, and The Shepherd’s House of Fort Wayne are all active supporters and participants.  The Veterans’ Court program here in our County has proven to be an overwhelming success, exceeding all expectations. This has happened due to the tremendous investment of time and effort by the above listed individuals as well as the dedicated hard work of our recovering veterans.  

Additionally, on April 1, 2019, the DeKalb County Family Restoration Court submitted its intention to seek certification and is currently in the planning stages.  This problem-solving court is also led by Judge Kurt B. Grimm. There are very few similar courts, frequently called Family Reconciliation Courts, currently operating in Indiana.

The purpose of the DeKalb County Family Restoration Court is to further the successful model of Veterans’ Court in the area of child welfare.  In the last two years, through dedicated effort, the number of Child in Need of Services cases has decreased in our County, despite a statewide trend in the other direction. Even with that decrease in overall case filings, the issues faced by children with addicted parents continue to dominate the Department of Child Services filings.  Many of the involved parents have pending drug abuse cases, a fact that prevents family reunification and restoration.  More importantly, the traditional methods utilized in the criminal justice system for dealing with addicted persons have not effectively solved the problem.

By using a problem solving court model the DeKalb Circuit Court will be able to place addicted parents in a far more intensive program and provide far more treatment services to parents, with the ultimate goal of restoring the family and placing children back in a safe, sober and nurturing environment. 

The Family Restoration Court is made possible through the assistance and dedication of the Courts of DeKalb County, the DeKalb County Probation Department, the DeKalb County Division of Children Services, the DeKalb County Prosecutor’s Office, and the DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office.

Both DeKalb County Veterans’ Court and the proposed DeKalb County Family Restoration Court are spearheaded very ably by Chief Deputy Probation Officer Ryan Hull, who has been instrumental in the formation and structuring of these projects. Community support is essential to what problem solving courts do.  If you have any questions concerning either Veterans’ Court or Family Restoration Court, please contact Ryan at the above email address or telephone number.