Pausing in the wake of rapid adoption: A call to critically examine the veterans treatment court concept


Veterans treatment courts (VTCs) are currently the fastest growing specialized court in the United States. In the wake of this rapid dissemination, the field has begun to empirically research VTCs but has acknowledged that little is known about them. While initial examinations of VTC program structure, operation, and outcomes have been conducted, the concept itself has yet to be critically examined to date. Therefore, this work calls attention to the need for critical discussions and evaluations of the VTC concept itself, specifically its underlying assumptions and ongoing policies and practices. To begin this inquiry, we first discern several assumptions on which the VTC concept exists and then analyze the related discourse and criticism available to assess the validity and potential effects of these assumptions. Next, several VTC policies and practices that are based in these assumptions and have the potential to be discriminatory are identified, and their current implementation and effects are investigated. A discussion of the identified assumptions and practices congruity with punishment philosophies ensues. Finally, state of empirical knowledge on VTCs is reviewed, revealing its infancy. The conclusion highlights key elements discovered in this work and presents corresponding recommendations and guidance for future consideration and research.


Criminology and Criminal Justice

Document Type





criminal justice policy, offender rehabilitation, specialized courts, veterans court, veterans treatment court

Publication Date


Journal Title

Journal of Offender Rehabilitation