February 5

Help for Veterans in Vermont

The Veterans Justice Outreach Initiative offers help for veterans who are in need of mental health treatment and are involved with the criminal justice system. The VA has information to help veterans get timely access to VHA services as clinically indicated. Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists are responsible for direct outreach, assessment, and case management for justice-involved Veterans in local courts and jails, and liaison with local justice system partners. The general rule of thumb for eligibility requirements for VA healthcare services is that they have to have a separation from the military that is general under honorable conditions or above and that they were active duty for two years or more. The Veterans Justice Outreach Specialists can facilitate enrollment in the WRJ VAMC if they are not currently enrolled and the specialist can facilitate referral to mental health and substance abuse services in the VA both in Vermont and throughout the country.

Health Care for Homeless Veterans
VAMC White River Junction
Department of Veterans Affairs
215 North Main Street
White River Jct, VT 05009

VJO White Paper

February 2

Gideon at 50 Rationing Justice: The Underfunding of Assigned Counsel Systems

Vermont has one of the lowest compensation rates in the nation ($50) for attorneys assigned to represent indigent defendants facing serious criminal charges in Vermont courts. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report last year documenting the unreasonably low rates of compensation paid to private attorneys who represent indigent defendants in state courts. The result of the underfunding in Vermont is an inadequate, inexperienced, and overworked pool of attorneys accepting court appointments. Vermont has an obligation to provide an indigent accused with an attorney because the federal and state constitutions guarantee the right to “Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” Denying the right to effective assistance of counsel leads to wrongful convictions, ill advised plea bargains, unjust punishments, increased prison populations with increased costs to taxpayers, unnecessary appeals, and petitions for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of counsel.

See
Gideon at 50 – Part 1 Rationing Justice

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