Stewart, a Marine Corps veteran, accepts position on Pro Bono Basis
Edwardsville, Ill. – The Firm is proud to announce that attorney Michael Stewart has been appointed as the Assistant State’s Attorney assigned to the Veterans’ Treatment Court, of the Illinois 3rd Judicial Circuit Court of Madison County. Stewart worked as the court’s first prosecutor in 2009 and now returns as a prosecutor on a pro bono basis.
“Being the prosecutor for the Veterans’ Court is an important job, and I’m humbled to be able to help secure justice for these men and women who have already sacrificed so much for their country,” Stewart said.
Madison County’s Veterans Court was one of the first programs in the nation to offer support to veterans currently involved with the criminal justice system who suffer from PTSD, psychological problems and substance abuse problems as a result of having served in the U.S. military.
It is a collaboration of numerous agencies, including the VA, the Public Defender’s Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Probation Department, the Veterans’ Assistance Commission and other community partners. Together, they have established a viable option for a select group of offenders whose needs are better met through treatment intervention rather than incarceration.
Stewart, a veteran himself of the U.S. Marine Corps, ensures that veterans who participate in the alternative court are held accountable under the law and that they receive justice, he said. It provides participants with an ongoing recovery process designed to help them become stable, employed, and substance free while continuing mental health care through community or peer counseling groups or the VA.
“My job is not to make sure that everyone who comes through Veterans’ Court is prosecuted, but to make sure they receive justice,” he said. “These men and women are suffering from conditions directly related-to their service in the armed forces. Veterans’ Court offers them understanding and a place where they can receive much needed support and help.”
To participate in Veterans’ Court, an offender cannot be charged with a violent crime. They undergo an initial screening to determine eligibility. If accepted, they are then referred to the appropriate agency for treatment, compliance monitoring and counseling. Transportation is also provided to program participants.