MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday held a ceremonial bill signing for the Veterans Restorative Justice Act, a bipartisan bill which aims to provide veterans caught in the criminal justice system with social services and probation rather than jail time.
The bill provides veterans who have committed a less severe offense - level 7 or lower - with an alternative to jail, allowing courts to consider service-related issues like chemical exposure, physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and military sexual trauma.
"This landmark legislation will help us see the bigger picture when veterans get caught in the criminal justice system," Walz said. "It's time we recognize the circumstances that lead our veterans to the courtroom and better understand the complexity of the challenges veterans face when they come home."
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added that the act "takes a compassionate approach for veterans in the criminal justice system suffering PTSD and other service-related conditions, strengthening our ability to support our veterans with the resources they need to thrive."
State Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, one of the five authors of the bill, said that "it is our duty to help these veterans receive treatment rather than incarceration when they commit low-level crimes due to struggles they are facing due to their service."
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