CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Court to Help Vets in Criminal System

From As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan put renewed focus on the issue of veterans' mental health, a judge in Buffalo, N.Y., has created a special court to assist veterans who wind up in the criminal justice system.

ary Pettengill wanted to make a career out of the military, but the Army made him take a medical discharge in 2006 after he injured his back in Iraq. At the time, Pettengill was 23 and married, with a third child on the way.

To cope with what he says were empty days and nightmares caused by post-traumatic stress disorder, Pettengill says he started smoking marijuana. Then he began selling it to pay his bills. In February, he was arrested during a drug sweep and accused of being in possession of two pounds of marijuana.

Pettengill found himself facing serious time and the possibility of losing his children to the child welfare system. His family was evicted from their apartment.

Then he was referred to Judge Robert Russell's "veterans court." Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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