Today’s NYT article, here, about leniency in federal sentencing cases in the wake of Porter v. McCollum, see Z’s post here and prior NYT editorial here, is a must read for anyone representing Vets outside of courts-martial (and in the military justice system, for that matter).
The NYT piece focuses on federal sentencing in the wake of the Booker decision making the USSG advisory rather than mandatory, thus giving judges discretion to consider factors like Veteran status. The article also discusses the recent growth in Veterans’ courts, in this instance meaning courts that deal with offenses committed by vets, that now exist in at least 22 jurisdictions, according to Dahlia Lithwick’s recent article in Newsweek, here. Most have a stated purpose much like the Alaska Veterans’ Court to:
[P]revent veterans charged with misdemeanors from falling into a life of crime. Rather than arresting and jailing veteran offenders for a few days or weeks only to return them to the same type of life, this court connects veterans to VA resources.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, here, the newest of the courts, the Philadelphia Veterans’ Court just opened on March 3, 2010 to a docket of 12-15 vets. Here is a link to a collection of articles, pro and con, on these new courts.