Here is my long time friend, and great (FAIR!) judge, Bill Witham, highlighting this good program! It is one of too few which really work; the low recidivism rate tells the story. Well done, Judge Witham!
Judge William Witham, Doing a Great Job – He “gets it” concerning felons in reentry.
Excerpts from the Article:
There’s no missing the newest wall decoration inside the Kent County Courthouse. The painting with vivid colors and gripping features measures 2 1/2 feet high and nearly 4 feet wide.
The oil-based work was created by a Sussex Correctional Institution inmate as a tribute to the state’s Veterans Treatment Court Program. He worked on it in his cell each night throughout a couple months, prison staff said.
“It was a heartfelt effort,” Department of Correction Lt. Adrienne Hanna said. “He tries to add to the community in any way he can.”
The idea sprouted after Kent County Resident Judge William L. Witham Jr. spoke to SCI’s 40-member Incarcerated Veterans Group last year. The inmate — a veteran himself — offered to donate his talents to promote the Veterans Court.
During an unveiling ceremony on the courthouse’s second floor Friday afternoon, the judge offered a positive critique. “It’s an extremely visual portrait that says a lot of words,” he said. “We hope it will spark interest in what benefits Veterans Court can provide for our society as a whole, including its ability to lower the prison population here in Delaware.”
Debuting in 2011, the first statewide veterans treatment court in the nation has included more than 400 participants, mentored by volunteers. The recidivism rate for Kent County participants is 98 percent successful, officials said. Of 20 inmates released in Sussex County over the past two years, only 10 percent have returned to custody.
Veterans with mental illness and ongoing misdemeanor and nonviolent felony cases can enter the rehabilitative program. They must attend scheduled court status conferences, follow treatment plans and participate in community groups as ordered, according to the online program description at courts.delaware.gov.
Prosecution ceases upon program completion and charges are dismissed. After completion of the program, prosecution for the offense will not proceed and the charges will be dismissed.
The special court involved the Delaware Superior Court, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Justice, Office of Public Defender and the Treatment Access Center.
A statewide Veterans Treatment Court training and recruitment event will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 28 at the Sussex County VA clinic at 21748 Roth Ave. in Georgetown.