Of California's 58 counties, 25 operate courts for veterans, including six in the Bay Area. They allow vets with substance abuse issues or mental health problems to be placed in treatment rather than prison or jail.
The state Senate Veterans Affairs Committee today approved a bill that would require an evaluation of those courts, with an eye toward possibly expanding them.
Businessman Wayne Hughes Jr. is sponsoring the bill and has pledged to pay for half of the study. It is expected to cost about $200,000.
Hughes, who runs a program for veterans at his cattle ranch in San Miguel (San Luis Obispo County), says many vets have trouble adjusting when they get home.
"(They) fall into issues around dysfunctional family relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, and then they begin to touch the criminal justice system," he says. "And once that happens, they sort of get caught up and lose control and it ends up being a spiral.”