The Arizona Veterans Program (AVP) commenced July 2013, under the vision of Senior District Judge, The Honorable Roslyn Silver. The program includes the collaboration of the U.S. Attorneys’ Office, Criminal Justice Panel Attorneys, Federal Public Defenders’ Office, the Veterans Administration (VA), volunteer mentors, and the U.S. Pretrial and Probation Offices. This partnership between agencies provides veteran participants with the support system necessary to accomplish program requirements, streamline the process of establishing services, and provides the first step towards meaningful lifestyle changes.
Although the extensive program requirements can be challenging for participants, successful outcomes are rewarded with significantly reduced or dismissed charges. The Pretrial and Probation Officers who work with veterans receive specialized training in identifying and effectively managing supervision obstacles specific to veterans such as traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental health and substance abuse issues. Participants receive a mentor, treatment services through the VA, and a network of support from the Arizona Veteran Program team.
The Arizona Veteran Program team meets monthly to staff each case as to the participants progress. Followed by the staffing the participant appears before the team to receive praise on their success, new challenges and goals, as well as support or additional resources. The supervision officer works closely with the participant to identify current obstacles and life stressors. An individualized supervision plan is created and regularly updated to address supervision obstacles while offering support and motivation towards completing goals. The District of Arizona is proud to offer a comprehensive program that specifically addresses the unique challenges many veterans face upon returning home after serving our country.
There are two tracks to gain acceptance into the probation:
Track 1 – Pretrial Services
U.S. Pretrial Services defendants facing petty, misdemeanor, or felony charges can gain acceptance through a Diversion or Deferred sentence.
Diversion is an alternative to prosecution in which prosecution is diverted at the pre-charge state. If a case is found suitable for diversion and the participant agrees to participate in the Arizona Veteran Program, the participant will be placed on pretrial supervision for a period not to exceed eighteen (18) months. Participants who successfully complete the program will have their charges dismissed.
Deferred Sentence occurs when a plea agreement is reached, and the Court suspends sentencing pending completion of Pretrial Services supervision and the successful completion of the Arizona Veteran Program. After the plea agreement has been accepted by the Court and after the Arizona Veteran Program District Judge reviews the case, the participant will be accepted into the program. The period of deferment is determined by the plea agreement and typically ranges from six months to three years. Successful completion of the Arizona Veteran Program and the term of Pretrial Services supervision will result in a dismissal of the charges or otherwise noted reduction.
Track 2 – Probation/Supervised Release
U.S. Probation participants are required to be on post-conviction supervision and not a high risk to reoffend. Additional criteria includes: voluntary participation in the program, reside within 100 miles of the Tucson or the Phoenix Courthouse, general to honorable discharge from the military, eligible for VA benefits, at least 12 months remaining on post-conviction supervision, and no violent, sexual, or weapons-related offenses.