For those of us who don’t work within the courts or don’t know someone who has come in contact with the legal system, we may think of our local courts as strictly a means of doling out sanctions to uphold the law, but did you know that many courts have programs that go far beyond punishment?
Many courts in Ohio and across the US now include specialized dockets. Specialized dockets offer a therapeutic approach to court supervision for qualifying individuals with specific needs, such as veterans or those suffering from mental illness or addiction. They offer case management, connection to community resources, and mentorship to assist individuals in serving their time in the community, fostering empowerment and respect. These programs are doing amazing work to impact lives and reduce recidivism.
relink.org staff has had the pleasure of sitting in on several local specialized docket court sessions in Northeast Ohio including Summit and Stark County’s Veteran Treatment Courts, or Valor and Honor Court. A crucial component of these veterans’ court programs are the mentors. These mentors are all volunteers with lived experience in serving our county, and they dedicate their time every month to mentoring participants.
The judges overseeing these programs are also incredibly invested in the court participants. They don’t just bring the participants in to address how they are doing in the program, but they get to know them and want to make them feel safe, seen, and respected. If a participant has a need, the court does whatever they can to empower them with the necessary tools to be successful. This can include something as essential as a bus pass and as meaningful as Christmas gifts for a participant’s children.
relink.org looks forward to continuing to work with these specialized dockets across the state to make sure their participants, mentors, and staff have access to all the resources in their area. If you would like to learn more about specialized dockets, what types there are, and the certification process, you can find more information here. For a list and contact information for all the Veterans’ Courts in Ohio, visit DVS.Ohio.gov.
If you or someone you know is in need of services now, start your search on relink.org.