Conference Focuses on Issues of Veterans Caught in the Criminal Justice System

Published on June 13, 2017 by Peggy Sanford  
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law and the University of Alabama’s School of Social Work will present a conference June 23 to address issues of military veterans who either have been incarcerated or faced diversionary courts, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. Posey. 

“Justice Involved Veterans: From Arrest to Successful Reentry” will be a daylong conference at Samford’s Cumberland School of Law. The conference will examine the needs of veterans at various points following their discharge from the military to determine when they are likely to be most vulnerable to committing a crime. The conference also will explore how to improve the chances that a veteran will successfully return to society after incarceration, and will examine veterans’ treatment courts and their role as an alternative to incarceration. 

“Military veterans too often return from service to face daunting challenges at home,” Posey said. “As a nation, we must do more than thank them for their service and move on. We need to acknowledge that many struggle with PTSD, with unemployment and chronic homelessness, and sometimes with the rule of law. This conference will provide information to help service providers, lawyers and law enforcement better assess the needs of troubled veterans, and help them build successful lives after serving their country, and sometimes after serving their sentence for a crime.”  

The conference will include morning and afternoon keynote addresses, each followed by panel discussions. 

Evan Seamone, an attorney at the Veterans Law Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, will give the morning address. At the Harvard clinic, Seamone represents veterans in a variety of matters, including applications for disability benefits and military discharge upgrades. Prior to joining the clinic, he was a professor at Mississippi College School of Law, where he directed the Legal Writing Program and helped to start the school’s monthly program to assist veterans with legal matters. 

Members of the panel responding to Seamone’s address will be Jefferson County District Attorney Pro Tem Danny Carr, Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Clyde Marsh and American Legion Alabama Department Adjutant Greg Akers. David L. Albright, associate professor, University of Alabama School of Social Work, will moderate the morning panel. 

David L. Pelletier, project director for the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and a Marine Corps veteran, will present the afternoon address. Members of the panel responding to Pelletier’s presentation will be Shelby County Veterans Court Judge William Bostick, former Cumberland School of Law Dean John Carroll and Jefferson County Deputy District Attorney Mike Philpott. Paula Stokes, veteran experience relationship manager in Alabama for the Southeast District of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, will moderate the afternoon panel. 

Other panels during the conference will address the topics Veterans Justice Outreach and Reentry and Community Corrections. 

The conference is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Reservations are required by June 19 to phillip.howard@usdoj.gov. Continuing education credit for attorneys and social workers is available for the conference. 

The conference will be from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the John Carroll Moot Courtroom in Robinson Hall. 

Peggy Sanford is with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Birmingham.

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ABOUT SAMFORD UNIVERSITY -- Samford University is a premier nationally ranked private university deeply rooted in its Christian mission. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th oldest institution of higher education in the United States. U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 3rd among regional universities in the South. Samford enrolls 5,509 students from 45 states, the District of Columbia and 29 other countries in its 10 academic units: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy, and public health. Samford also fields 17 NCAA Division I teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference.