Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 11, 2009
Contact: Tina Tran, 512-463-0113

Statement of Sen. Rodney Ellis on Veterans Day and the Commissioners Court Approval of the Harris County Veterans Court Program

Sen. Rodney Ellis praised veterans for their service today and lauded the Harris County Commissioners Court for approving the implementation of a Veterans Court Program to divert non-violent veterans and active duty military personnel out of the criminal justice system and into mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Veterans Court Programs in Texas were authorized by an amendment offered by Sen. Ellis to two bills from this past legislative session (SB 1940 (Van de Putte) and HB 4833 (Hunter)). The amendments were based on Sen. Ellis' legislation, SB 112.

"Today, on this Veterans Day, I would like to salute the brave men and women who have fought for the freedoms we Americans enjoy every day. Thank you and your families for the sacrifices you have made so that we can be the free and prosperous nation that we are today," said Sen. Ellis.

He continued, "I would also like to thank all the people who have been working so hard to implement the Harris County Veterans Court Program, which was approved by the Commissioners Court yesterday. This program will help honorably discharged veterans and active duty military personnel who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness, or substance use disorders due to military service. Instead of incarcerating these men and women for non-violent offenses, they will receive the mental health and substance abuse treatment and other rehabilitative services they need to get their lives back on track."

Initially, the Harris County Veterans Court Program will be a six-month pilot program in the 228th District Court, overseen by Judge Marc Carter. Treatment services will be provided by the Veterans Administration.