The Skokie Veterans Treatment Court, a problem-solving court in the Circuit Court of Cook County, will have its first in-person graduation ceremony since the start of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday. The ceremony will be held at 2:15 p.m. on October 22 in room 201 of the courthouse, which is located at 5600 Old Orchard Road. The media is welcome to attend the ceremony, which takes place less than three weeks before Veterans Day.
Problem-solving courts, also known as specialty or therapeutic courts, seek to help low-level criminal defendants suffering from an underlying mental health, social or substance abuse problem keep from becoming repeat offenders. Problem-solving courts achieve this goal by providing treatment and intensive supervision. The Cook County Circuit Court has a countywide network of problem-solving courts that includes Drug Treatment Courts, Mental Health Treatment Courts, and Veterans Treatment Courts.
Cook County problem-solving courts are designed primarily to assist people who have committed non-violent felony crimes.
The first Cook County Veterans Treatment Court was established in 2009 at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, and since then, Veterans Courts have been established at all the Circuit Court’s suburban locations.
The Hon. Michael Hood, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, presides over the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court. He said Friday’s ceremony will include four new graduates. Also invited are graduates who had previously attended ceremonies on Zoom.
Judge Hood noted that Veterans Treatment Court accepts participants who suffer from both addiction and mental health issues, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The program takes two years, and provides treatment primarily administered through the Veterans Administration. Participants who successfully complete the program will have their charges dismissed and expunged.
“It’s true rehabilitation,” said Judge Hood, who has run the Skokie Veterans Treatment Court for seven years. “There’s an issue, a mental health or addiction issue, which we address so we can take them out of the cycle of criminal justice. The point is to take them back, make them whole.”
Graduates at the ceremony will be presented with handmade quilts from the Quilts of Valor Foundation.