06.02.11

U.S. Attorney General Holder Visits RI with Senator Whitehouse

AG Learned about RI Veterans’ Court Program and Toured Providence Nonviolence Institute

Providence, RI – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder joined U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in Rhode Island today to learn more about an innovative new approach to treating veterans who enter our criminal justice system. Holder and Whitehouse met at the Supreme Court in Providence with representatives and stakeholders for the Rhode Island veterans’ court pilot program, which seeks to provide sensible law enforcement alternatives for veterans who commit low-level offenses. They then joined U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha and RI Attorney General Peter Kilmartin for a tour of the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence.

“I was thrilled to bring Attorney General Holder to our Ocean State and show him some of the great work being done by Rhode Islanders to reduce violence and improve treatment for our veterans in the criminal justice system,” said Whitehouse. “We should do everything in our power to help these brave men and women, who sacrificed so much for our country, recover from the trauma of war and become successful in their civilian life.”

Many veterans returning from combat suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other trauma, which can impact their behavior. The veterans’ court works to identify and address the underlying cause of this behavior by referring veterans to treatment programs or providing other alternatives that can keep them out of jail and help them to lead safer, more productive lives, while protecting public safety.

Joining Whitehouse and Holder at the veterans’ court was former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy, a national leader in efforts to address mental health issues for veterans and the general public. Other attendees included Rhode Island Attorney General Kilmartin, RI Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell, and RI District Court Chief Judge Jeanne LaFazia, who has led the veterans’ court initiative.

The Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence works to promote nonviolent resolutions to potentially violent situations. They run a variety of programs, including a “Streetworker Program” which provides outreach and mentoring for youth at high risk of joining gangs or committing violent offenses. They were formed when Whitehouse was Attorney General for Rhode Island.

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