BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó


          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   AB 201|
          |Office of Senate Floor Analyses   |                         |
          |1020 N Street, Suite 524          |                         |
          |(916) 651-1520         Fax: (916) |                         |
          |327-4478                          |                         |
                                 THIRD READING

          Bill No:  AB 201
          Author:   Butler (D)
          Amended:  As introduced
          Vote:     21

           SENATE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 06/14/11
          AYES:  Correa, Cannella, Berryhill, Negrete McLeod, Rubio, 
            Runner, Lieu
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Calderon

           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 06/28/11
          AYES:  Hancock, Anderson, Calderon, Harman, Liu, Price, 

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  74-0, 05/05/11 - See last page for vote

           SUBJECT  :    Veterans courts

           SOURCE  :     Author

           DIGEST  :    This bill authorizes superior courts to develop 
          and implement veterans courts.  This bill establishes 
          standards and procedures for veterans courts and specifies 
          that county participation in the veterans' courts program 
          is voluntary.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law:

          1.Provides that in the case of any person convicted of a 
            criminal offense who would otherwise be sentenced to 


                                                                AB 201

            county jail or state prison and who alleges that he or 
            she committed the offense as a result of post-traumatic 
            stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or psychological 
            problems stemming from service in a combat theater in the 
            United States military, the court shall, prior to 
            sentencing, hold a hearing to determine whether the 
            defendant was a member of the military forces of the 
            United States who served in combat and shall assess 
            whether the defendant suffers from PTSD, substance abuse, 
            or psychological problems as a result of that service. 

          2.States that if the court concludes that a defendant 
            convicted of a criminal offense was a member of the 
            military forces of the United States suffering from PTSD, 
            substance abuse, or psychological problems stemming from 
            service in a combat theater and if the defendant is 
            otherwise eligible for probation and the court places the 
            defendant on probation, the court may order the defendant 
            into a local; state; federal; or private, non-profit 
            treatment program for a period not to exceed that which 
            the defendant would have served in state prison or county 
            jail, provided the defendant agrees to participate in the 
            program and the court determines that an appropriate 
            treatment program exists. 

          3.Obligates counties to provide mental health treatment 
            services to members of the military forces of the United 
            States suffering from PTSD, substance abuse, or 
            psychological problems stemming from service in a combat 
            theater only to the extent that resources are available 
            for that purpose.  If mental health treatment services 
            are ordered by the court, the county mental health agency 
            shall coordinate appropriate referral of the defendant to 
            the county veterans service officer.  The county mental 
            health agency shall not be responsible for providing 
            services outside its traditional scope of services.  An 
            order shall be made referring a defendant to a county 
            mental health agency only if that agency has agreed to 
            accept responsibility for the treatment of the defendant.

          This bill:

          1.States that the objective of the veterans courts are: 


                                                                AB 201

             A.   Increase cooperation between the courts, criminal 
               justice, veterans, and substance abuse programs; 

             B.   Create a dedicated calendar or a locally developed 
               collaborative court-supervised veterans mental health 
               program or system that will lead to placement of as 
               many mentally ill offenders who are veterans of the 
               United States (U.S.) military, including those with 
               post-traumatic stress disorders, traumatic brain 
               injury, military sexual trauma, substance abuse, or 
               any mental health problem stemming from United States 
               military service, in community treatment, as is 
               feasible and consistent with public safety; 

             C.   Improve access to necessary services and support; 

             D.   Reduce recidivism; and, 

             E.   Reduce involvement of veterans in the criminal 
               justice system and time in jail by making mental 
               health service for veterans available in the least 
               restrictive environment possible while promoting 
               public safety. 

          1.States that the veterans court may have the following 

             A.   Leadership by a superior court judicial officer 
               assigned by the presiding judge; 

             B.   Enhanced accountability by combining judicial 
               supervision with rehabilitation service that are 
               rigorously monitored and focused on recovery; 

             C.   A problem solving focus; 

             D.   A team approach to decision-making;

             E.   Integration of social and treatment services; 

             F.   Judicial supervision of the treatment process, as 

             G.   Community outreach efforts; and, 


                                                                AB 201

             H.   Direct interaction between defendant and judicial 

          1.Suggests guidelines for creating veterans courts, 

             A.   One stakeholder should be a veteran who is a 
               criminal justice client and has experience with mental 

             B.   The method by which the veterans court ensures that 
               the target population of defendants are identified and 
               referred to the veterans court; 

             C.   The method for assessing defendants who are 
               veterans for serious mental illness and co-occurring 

             D.   Eligibility criteria specifying what factors make 
               the defendant eligible to participate in the veterans 
               court, including service in the United States 
               military, the amenability of the defendant to 
               treatment and the facts of the case, as well as prior 
               criminal history, United States military service 
               history, and mental health and substance abuse 
               treatment history; 

             E.   The elements of the treatment and supervision 

             F.   Standards for continuing participation in, and 
               successful completion of, the veterans court program; 

             G.   The need for all service providers and stakeholders 
               to receive initial and ongoing training from county 
               departments and community stakeholders with 
               specialized knowledge about veterans' treatment and 
               service needs, such as the county health department, 
               county veterans officers, county drug and alcohol 
               department, and Veterans Administration partners, and 
               the need to provide initial and ongoing training for 
               designated staff on the nature of serious mental 
               illness and on the treatment and supportive services 


                                                                AB 201

               available in the community; 

             H.   The process to ensure defendants will receive the 
               appropriate level of treatment series with emphasis on 
               maximizing federally funded services from the Veterans 
               Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, 
               as well as the county and other local mental health 
               and substance abuse treatment services to the extent 
               that resources are available for that purpose, as 

             I.   The process for developing or modifying a treatment 
               plan for each defendant, based on a formal assessment 
               of the defendant's mental health, United States 
               military service history, and substance abuse 
               treatment needs.  Participation in the veterans court 
               shall require defendants to complete the recommended 
               treatment plan, and comply with any other terms and 
               conditions that optimizes the likelihood that the 
               defendant completes the program; 

             J.   The process for referring cases to the veterans 
               court; and, 

             AA.  The defendant's voluntary entry into the veterans 
               court, and the process for explaining these rights to 
               the defendant. 

          1.Suggests that each veterans court team, led by a judicial 
            officer include a judicial officer to preside over the 
            court, a prosecutor, a public defender, a county mental 
            health liaison, a substance abuse liaison, a county 
            veterans' service officer, a probation officer, and a 
            Veterans Administration social worker to assist the court 
            with screening veterans court candidates for eligibility 
            and suitability in Veterans Administration funded 
            programs.  This team shall determine the frequency of 
            ongoing reviews of the progress of the offender in 
            community treatment in order to ensure the offender 
            adheres to the treatment plan as recommended, remains in 
            treatment, and completes treatment. 

          2.States legislative intent that a veterans court judge use 
            a variety of options for carrying out the goal to ensure 


                                                                AB 201

            long-term public safety by maximizing the opportunities 
            for veterans with psychological war wounds to get timely 
            and appropriate treatment.  States legislative intent in 
            enacting this section to augment rather than replace 
            other sections within this code.  The judicial officer 
            has a variety of tools available to reach these goals and 
            shall exercise discretion and use all tools available to 
            ensure public safety and assist defendants to 
            successfully complete appropriate treatment for the 
            problems underlying their offenses.  Where there are 
            statutory requirements for certain education or 
            counseling programs to be included in the terms of 
            probation, the components of these offense-specific 
            counseling terms shall be incorporated into the treatment 
            programs that are designed to treat the underlying 
            psychological disorders rather than required in lieu of 
            the psychological treatments.  This holistic approach 
            ensures that the priority underlying offense is treated 
            and that offense-specific education and counseling aims 
            are met. 

          For the last several years, severe overcrowding in 
          California's prisons has been the focus of evolving and 
          expensive litigation.  As these cases have progressed, 
          prison conditions have continued to be assailed, and the 
          scrutiny of the federal courts over California's prisons 
          has intensified.  

          On June 30, 2005, in a class action lawsuit filed four 
          years earlier, the United States District Court for the 
          Northern District of California established a Receivership 
          to take control of the delivery of medical services to all 
          California state prisoners confined by the California 
          Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).  In 
          December of 2006, plaintiffs in two federal lawsuits 
          against CDCR sought a court-ordered limit on the prison 
          population pursuant to the federal Prison Litigation Reform 
          Act.  On January 12, 2010, a three-judge federal panel 
          issued an order requiring California to reduce its inmate 
          population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, a reduction 
          at that time of roughly 40,000 inmates, within two years.  
          The court stayed implementation of its ruling pending the 


                                                                AB 201

          state's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

          On May 23, 2011, the United States Supreme Court upheld the 
          decision of the three-judge panel in its entirety, giving 
          California two years from the date of its ruling to reduce 
          its prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, 
          subject to the right of the state to seek modifications in 
          appropriate circumstances.  
          In response to the unresolved prison capacity crisis, in 
          early 2007 the Senate Committee on Public Safety began 
          holding legislative proposals which could further 
          exacerbate prison overcrowding through new or expanded 
          felony prosecutions. 

          According to the author, "AB 201 will promote the 
          development of Veterans' Courts throughout the state by 
          strongly encouraging the Judicial Council to develop 
          practices and identify resources for the purposes of 
          facilitating veterans' courts in counties.  In addition, 
          this bill strongly encourages the Judicial Council to 
          develop a compendium of resources to assist all 
          collaborative courts to understand the unique circumstances 
          that affect veterans." 

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  No   
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT :   (Verified  6/28/11)

          American Legion, Department of California
          AMVETS, Department of California
          California Association of County Veterans Service Officers
          California Attorneys for Criminal Justice 
          California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies
          California Mental Health Directors Association
          California Psychiatric Association
          California Psychological Association
          California Public Defenders Association
          California State Commanders Veterans Council 
          Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
          Mental Health Association in California


                                                                AB 201

          Military Officers Association of America, California 
          Council of Chapters
          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter
          State Independent Living Council
          Student Veterans of California 
          Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Department 
          of California
          Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The State Independent Living 
          Council supports this bill stating:

               Over the past decade the number of mentally ill 
               veterans has greatly increased throughout the United 
               States and the numbers continue to increase.  
               Approximately 20% of returning forces are likely to 
               suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and 
               additionally 320,000 returning veterans may have 
               traumatic brain injuries. In addition, SILC has found 
               that veterans with disabilities, specifically those 
               with traumatic brain injuries, are an underserved and 
               underrepresented group in California.  With these 
               findings it is important that issues that face 
               returning veterans are addressed.  The state 
               authorizing the superior courts to develop a veterans' 
               court with the objective of a court-supervised 
               veteran's mental health program is a step in the right 
               direction.  The program would allow for treatment 
               instead of punishment, for an illness/injury that 
               these brave men and women obtained in service of our 

               The Council considers this bill to be an important 
               step in ensuring that we continue to support our 

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR  :  74-0, 05/05/11
          AYES:  Achadjian, Alejo, Allen, Ammiano, Atkins, Beall, 
            Bill Berryhill, Block, Blumenfield, Bonilla, Bradford, 
            Brownley, Buchanan, Butler, Charles Calderon, Campos, 
            Carter, Cedillo, Chesbro, Conway, Cook, Davis, Dickinson, 
            Donnelly, Eng, Feuer, Fletcher, Fong, Fuentes, Galgiani, 
            Gatto, Gordon, Grove, Hagman, Halderman, Hall, Harkey, 


                                                                AB 201

            Hayashi, Roger Hernández, Hill, Huber, Hueso, Huffman, 
            Jeffries, Knight, Lara, Logue, Bonnie Lowenthal, Ma, 
            Mansoor, Mendoza, Miller, Mitchell, Monning, Morrell, 
            Nestande, Norby, Olsen, Pan, Perea, V. Manuel Pérez, 
            Portantino, Silva, Skinner, Smyth, Solorio, Swanson, 
            Torres, Valadao, Wagner, Wieckowski, Williams, Yamada, 
            John A. Pérez
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Furutani, Garrick, Gorell, Jones, 
            Nielsen, Vacancy

          RM:nl  6/29/11   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

                                ****  END  ****