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Legislature expands veterans court eligibility

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Senator George B. GainerVeterans who were dishonorably discharged, veterans who served in allied armed forces, and even U.S. Department of Defense contractors would be eligible for Florida’s veterans courts under a measure that is headed for the governor’s signature.

The Senate voted 39-0 on May 3 to give final approval to the proposal, SB 910, by Sen. George Gainer. The Panama City Republican said veterans specialty courts, which offer low-level criminal defendants the option of completing substance abuse and mental health treatment to avoid prison, have been proven by multiple studies to lower recidivism and reduce prison populations.

“We’ve had great success with veterans courts,” Gainer said. “The judges have just picked up the ball and run with it,”

Gainer said dishonorably discharged veterans won’t pose a significant risk to the program because veteran’s courts involve extensive front-end screening.
The House voted 114-0 on May 1 to approve a companion measure. Gov. Ron DeSantis, a former Navy JAG officer, has 14 days to sign the measure, veto it, or let it become law without his signature.

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