MIDDLESEC COUNTY, NJ - Veterans from Middlesex county can now, with applied effort, complete a program which will divert criminal and/or drug charges against them. The VDP program will allow veterans to reenter society after having become disengaged and to receive support from the community.
Middlesex County Acting Prosecutor Christopher L.C. Kuberiet announces that the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office Veteran’s Diversion Program (VDP) held its first graduation ceremony in New Brunswick, said a report issued by the Middlesex County Prosecutor's office today.
In Middlesex County, the VDP is administered exclusively by the County Prosecutor’s Office (MCPO), and involves intensive supervision and monitoring of a qualifying veteran’s treatment and progress by an applicable mental health treatment provider, the Veteran’s Administration (VA), the MCPO, and a volunteer mentor. Veterans who are approved for admission into the program will have to regularly attend counseling and, where applicable, receive mental health and/or substance abuse treatment. These conditions include, but are not limited to, making restitution where applicable, refraining from future criminal activity, refraining from use of alcohol or frequenting locations where alcohol is sold or used, and attendance at required court proceedings. A veteran who successfully completes the terms and conditions of the program (which are memorialized in a court order), has not been the subject of any subsequent criminal charges, and continues to make progress with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, may have their charges dismissed within 6 months to 2 years, depending on the particular course of treatment and compliance.
The graduation held on Friday, December 6, 2019, recognized the first Veteran who has completed the program in Middlesex County. The Honorable Robert Jones officiated at the ceremony in recognition of the dedication and hard work exhibited to successfully complete the Veteran’s Diversion Program.
More than 30 people, including Superior Court Judges, members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Middlesex County officials, mental health professionals, attorneys, representatives of veterans’ organizations and mentors involved in the Veteran’s Diversion Program, attended the ceremony at the Middlesex County Superior Court in New Brunswick.
The graduate, a 43-year old Army Veteran, was presented with a framed certificate commemorating his participation in the program and in the first graduation ceremony. He was the first Veteran admitted into the Veteran’s Diversion Program in November 2018.
The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office established the Veteran’s Diversion Program (VDP) for active and former service members who are charged with nonviolent 3rd and 4th degree offenses and are suffering from a mental health condition. Veterans may be eligible for diversion to mental health and rehabilitative treatment rather than face traditional criminal prosecution.
VDP applications and further information are available on the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office website.
A veteran who successfully completes the terms and conditions of this program, which are memorialized in a court order, has not been subject of any subsequent criminal charges, and continues to make progress with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment may have his/her charges dismissed. In this case, indictable charges were dismissed by the Superior Court upon the successful completion of the program.
One of the requirements of the Veteran’s Diversion Program is to have Volunteer Mentors who are assigned to a defendant to provide mentorship, advocacy and support. These Mentors encourage, guide, and support the client as they progress through the court process and treatment programs.
This graduate had two mentors, a Navy Veteran and a Marine Veteran who volunteered their time to assist the defendant in his interactions with the Court, the Prosecutor’s Office, and his mental health providers.
In order to continue the strides made with the VDP and to assist other veterans who are defendants, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office is continually seeking veterans to serve as mentors. If you are interested in serving as a mentor, please contact Det. Ivis Molina at (732) 745-4214 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Pursuant to State law, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office retains the sole discretion over who is admitted into the VDP, the specific terms of the admission and the duration that defendant is in the VDP.