John L. Carroll Moot Courtroom at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law was filled to capacity with attorneys, social workers, law enforcement officials, service providers and concerned citizens for a recent conference aimed at helping veterans in the court system.
The conference, “Justice Involved Veterans: From Arrest to Successful Reentry,” was sponsored by Cumberland School of Law, the University of Alabama’s School of Social Work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Birmingham Bar Association.
“Military veterans too often return from service to face daunting challenges at home,” acting U.S. Attorney Robert O. 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.”
The daylong conference included morning and afternoon sessions with panel discussions.
Posey and Dean Henry C. Strickland of Cumberland School of Law gave the opening remarks. Evan Seamone, an attorney at the Veterans Law Clinic of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, spoke in the morning, followed by two panel discussions. Prior to lunch, the audience heard from Carla Ward, assistant U.S. attorney. David L. Pelletier, project director for the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative at the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, spoke in the afternoon, followed by two panel discussions. Pelletier also gave the closing remarks.
Panel discussion members included representatives from the Department of Corrections, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Legion, the University of Alabama School of Social Work and Cumberland School of Law.
John L. Carroll, Cumberland School of Law professor, former dean and former U.S. magistrate judge, called the conference “an unqualified success.”
“It was unique because it was one of the first conferences in the country to examine veterans’ issues from the point of arrest until reentry into society,” Carroll explained. “There was a great dialogue started that will lead to meaningful positive changes for our veterans who become involved in the criminal justice system in the future.”