(ABC 6 News) – Governor Tim Walz held a ceremonial bill signing at Veterans Memorial Park in Saint Paul to celebrate the Veterans Restorative Justice Act.
The bipartisan legislation will provide veterans who are found to have committed criminal offenses as a result of a service-related condition with probation and social services rather than jail time.
“This landmark legislation will help us see the bigger picture when veterans get caught in the criminal justice system. It’s time we recognize the circumstances that lead our veterans to the courtroom and better understand the complexity of the challenges veterans face when they come home,” said Governor Walz.
“We know that Minnesota veterans and their families face unique challenges that sometimes last long after their service is done,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “The Veterans Restorative Justice Act takes a compassionate approach for veterans in the criminal justice system suffering PTSD and other service-related conditions, strengthening our ability to support our veterans with the resources they need to thrive.”
The Veterans Restorative Justice Act does not exempt Veterans from punishment but provides an alternative course for specially convened courts to consider service-related issues such as chemical exposure, physical injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and military sexual trauma as veterans navigate their path to recovery and restitution through the legal system. The law applies to veterans accused of less-severe offenses, specifically those at Level 7 or less on the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission’s sentencing grid.