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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 15th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 36

Judge who helped found Santa Maria's veterans treatment court is honored for his service

BY AMY ASMAN

A statewide organization of probation officers recently named Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rogelio Flores its Judicial Officer of the Year. Flores will officially receive the award at a luncheon on Dec. 13 in San Diego.

Chief Probation Officers of California represents the top probation officers from every county in the state. These men and women oversee the detention and treatment of offenders, as well as victim services and programs for crime prevention and delinquency.

“Judge Flores has been a true champion for all offenders in the county’s system of collaborative courts, and the impact that he has had on their lives and the lives of their families is immeasurable,” the county’s chief probation officer, Beverly Taylor, said in a prepared statement. “He has performed his judicial duties with enormous empathy while ensuring that offenders are held accountable. His passion is infectious, and everyone entering his courtroom quickly senses that he cares about each individual before him. The leadership and innovation he has exhibited makes him most deserving of this recognition.”

Flores has served in several collaborative courts in Santa Maria, including substance abuse treatment court, mental health court, and DUI treatment court. He also organized the first veterans treatment court in Santa Barbara County.

Five Santa Maria-area veterans facing possible jail time for nonviolent crimes were expected to graduate from veterans treatment court on Nov. 14 after successfully completing treatment programs through the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA).

The program offers injured veterans treatment under the condition that “they take responsibility for their actions and safely transition back to a peaceful, functional, and healthy civilian life,” according to information from the VA. Veterans are guided through a phased program that includes mental health care, residential and outpatient treatment, self-help meetings, and regular court-review hearings.

“It is truly a humbling experience for me to have been asked to preside over our new veterans treatment court in Santa Maria,” Rogelio said in a release to the media. “Too many of our nation’s veterans are suffering from any number of symptoms directly related to their service to this country, including mental disorders, homelessness, and substance abuse. Our court is designed to help these heroes return to a more productive and healthy lifestyle.”

Veterans receive graduation certificates after completing the program. Defendants eligible for veterans court are U.S. military veterans who served in a combat theater and committed a criminal offense that may be linked to mental health, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or addiction problems tied to their service.