Archives for January 2019

Veterans Treatment Court Act Funds Supportive Alternatives

This was originally posted at The Sobering Up Blog by Scramsystems

Veterans treatment courts (VTCs) are one of the fastest growing specialty court types in the U.S.; there are now more than 551 VTCs nationwide. Recent legislation will fund support staff at these alternative courts to assist veterans on their road to recovery.

Veterans Treatment Courts Increase Assistance

This fall, the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act of 2018 was signed into law, increasing services for veterans impacted by the justice system.

This act enhances the ability of Treatment courts to serve veterans; the VA will be required to place 50 additional Veterans Justice Outreach (VJO) specialists at VA Medical Centers. These specialists will serve as part of a team in a VTC. VJO Specialists currently serve in 551 Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) and other Veteran focused court programs across the U.S.

Veterans Treatment Courts and VJO specialists serve veterans who are or will soon be, part of the criminal justice system. The goal is to reduce recidivism among veterans by connecting participants to treatment services such as alcohol and drug counseling, rather than serving jail time. VJOs work directly with the courts to create treatment plans to address the reasons behind the criminal behavior of veteran offenders, many of whom are living with substance abuse problems.

Alcohol Abuse and Criminal Consequences On the Rise for U.S. Veterans

The VJO Specialist and court-ordered treatment programs address underlying issues like alcohol abuse and drug abuse, problems on the rise in the veteran population:

Alcohol abuse and related criminal activity is a growing problem for some veterans. There has been a significant increase in binge drinking in male veterans, with two times the increase for female veterans. Drinking more is connected to more drinking and driving and the veteran population has seen an increase in drunk driving of almost 60% since 2014.  “There’s no denying that American veterans contribute to the nationwide epidemic of drunk driving,” a study by the American Addiction Centers concludes.

Veteran Treatment Courts are continuing to open across the nation; criminal justice reform legislation is ushering in options outside of standard sentencing and incarceration. Soon, alternative courts with increased funding and enhanced support services for veterans may become the norm.

Alcohol & Drunk Driving Trends: A 2018 Retrospective

This was originally posted at The Sobering Up Blog by Scramsystems

In the spirit of the new year ahead, we have decided to look back at some of the 2018 trends surrounding drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice.

Problem Drinking & Driving

It’s no secret that impaired driving is a widespread issue, but drinking and driving in certain age groups has its own set of dangers. For example, underage drivers are responsible for 17% of fatal alcohol-involved crashes and over one-third of fatal traffic crashes among young adults aged 16–20 involve alcohol. With drivers under the age of 21 representing 10% of licensed drivers in the U.S., these statistics are quite sobering.

The risks of drunk driving aren’t only more pronounced in teenage drivers, but also senior citizens. Older people are more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, and adults aged 65 and older tend to binge drink more often than other age groups. With even one drink being enough to impair driving skills in older people, the dangers of drinking and driving extend to the 40 million licensed drivers over the age of 64.

Promising Policies and Legislation

As the impacts of alcohol-involved fatalities and drunk driving become more prevalent, new legislation and policies are being put in place to help combat this issue.

For example, with the growing problem of college binge drinking and subsequent deaths, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), representing over 6,100 chapters across 800 college campuses, has banned hard alcohol at all fraternity houses and events. Even students 21 and older will not be exempt from the new policy unless the alcohol is being controlled and served by a licensed third-party vendor.

On a larger legislative scale, Utah is the first state in the nation to lower the legal driving BAC from .08 to .05. With several other states considering the .05 legislation, researchers estimate that if every state were to adopt the lower BAC limit, it could potentially save 1,790 lives a yearthat would otherwise be lost to drunk driving incidents.

Alcohol Monitoring Programs Seeing Success, Gaining Traction

New laws and policies aren’t the only way jurisdictions across the country are addressing the issue of drunk driving. To help reduce DUIs, a number of jurisdictions are implementing alcohol monitoring programs that use a variety of technologies to supervise drunk driving offenders.

Earlier this year, the Honorable Judge John S. Kennedy retired after serving 22 years on the bench and building a highly successful alcohol monitoring program in York County, Pennsylvania. The Target 25 Program targets repeat drunk driving offenders, requiring pretrial supervision using alcohol monitoring. Not only is the program seeing continued success since its inception in 2012, but also helped reduce the number of same-year repeat DUI offenders by 90%.

Alcohol monitoring pilot programs are also gaining traction across the pond. Between 2006 and 2016, an estimated 9,050 people in Great Britain were killed or injured as a result of alcohol-involved crashes. But pilot programs using “sobriety tags” or continuous alcohol monitoring bracelets, are emerging across the country as areas around the UK are recognizing the impact of drunk driving. One such program in Northwest England saw a 92% sobriety rate in people wearing the tag and continues to gain traction as more areas consider their own alcohol monitoring programs.

What other trends in drunk driving, alcohol addiction, and criminal justice have you noticed this past year?

LINDSAY WILLIAMS

Lindsay Williams is a writer and communications specialist at SCRAM Systems. Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Science from the University of Colorado and has over five years of professional writing and digital marketing experience. Prior to her time at SCRAM Systems, Williams worked as a DUI/DWI and alcohol education class coordinator where she gained first-hand experience in helping educate and rehabilitate alcohol-involved clients.