Name of Host Organization: Northwest Justice Project
City, State: Seattle, Washington
Issue area: Veterans' Rights
Sponsors: The Microsoft Corporation, Fenwick & West LLP
Leo built enduring capacity in Washington for complementary civil representation of criminal justice-involved veterans through client representation, legal-cultural education, and stakeholder collaboration.
Need Addressed By Project
Nearly one in 10 people in Washington State is a veteran and as many as 13 percent of the state’s prisoners are veterans. These figures do not capture the large number of veterans who come in contact with the criminal justice system but are not ultimately incarcerated. As veterans struggle to re-enter civilian life, they carry burdens from combat that often lead to depression, homelessness, substance abuse, suicide, and involvement with the criminal courts. Conventional criminal courts are ill equipped to address the complex circumstances facing veterans. Even specialized Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) leave unmet the civil legal needs that complicate veterans’ rehabilitation and elevate their risk of recidivism. This project bridges that gap by partnering with VTCs and prisons to provide veterans with an array of civil representation that complements their criminal defense or pre-release planning. The results are a justice system that better understands how to help veterans and individuals who will leave the justice system better prepared to succeed.