Riverside County Veterans Court Winter 2016-2017
Judge Mark A. Mandio, Presiding, 3rd Floor, Courtroom 31
The Veterans Court will assist those who have faced challenges in addressing combat-related
trauma, and as a result, have entered the criminal justice system for low-level offenses.
Approximately 1.7 million American troops have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and one in five has
returned with a mental health issue, the Department of Defense has estimated. Approximately half
of those affected have sought help, and about half of them have received suitable care. War-
related illnesses can contribute to escalated suicide attempts, arrests, incarceration, divorce,
domestic violence, homelessness and despair. The court’s specialized treatment program will meet
the particular needs of these veterans.
>>What is Veterans Court?
Riverside County Veterans Court recently held 2016 graduation. Veterans Court is the first such court
in Riverside County and joins over 40 similar courts nationwide including San Diego and Orange
County Veterans specialty courts!
•Riverside County = estimated 150,000 veterans and counting.
•According to government reports, there are 23,440,000 veterans in the United States and approximately 1.7
million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that as many as
one third of the adult homeless population has served in the military and that at any given time there are as
many as 130,000 homeless veterans. This population mirrors the general homeless population in that 45%
suffer mental illness and 75% suffer from substance abuse problems. Veterans are not more likely to be
arrested than the general population. But there are significant numbers of veterans involved with the criminal
justice system, many of whom struggle with mental health and/or substance abuse illnesses. A 2000 Bureau
of Justice Statistics Report found that 81% of all justice involved veterans had a substance abuse problem
prior to incarceration, 35% were identified as suffering from alcohol dependency, 23% were homeless at
some point in the prior year, and 25% were identified as mentally ill.
In December 2011, California courts reported that nine veterans’ courts programs had been established
throughout the state:
Los Angeles County Superior Court,
Orange County Superior Court (national mentor court),
San Bernardino County Superior Court,
San Diego County Superior Court,
Santa Barbara County Superior Court
Santa Clara County Superior Court (national mentor court),
Sonoma County Superior Court,
Tulare County Superior Court and
Ventura County Superior Court.
• Note! The cost to house one offender in jail is approx $76/day
To be eligible, a veteran must be
charged with a misdemeanor crime in
Riverside County. He or she must have
received a general or honorable
discharge, live in Riverside County, have
a substance abuse and/or mental health
disorder and want treatment for it.
The veteran must plead guilty to the
charge, but instead of going to jail*, he or
she will receive intense supervision and
court-ordered treatment for a minimum of
12 months (*defendants must serve all
mandatory jail sentences for a select few
crimes such as Driving While Under the
First time non-DUI offenders may be
eligible for our Veteran Diversion
The program aims to, through education,
treatment, monitoring and counseling, reduce
the chance the veteran would offend in the
future. This court also employs a Vet-to-Vet Peer
Mentoring component that helps coach, guide
and assist the veterans to navigate through
both V A and court systems as only a vet can
relate to a vet.
"I can't think of a group more
deserving of our help than our
nations veterans who have
served our country."
~ Former Riverside County
Veterans Court Judge Mark