WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, along with Representative Tom Emmer, today announced that the U.S. Department of Justice has awarded Anoka County a grant of $350,000 to establish a drug court and an additional grant of $299,911 to expand its veterans treatment court. The drug court will provide non-violent offenders who suffer from addiction with support to achieve sobriety and foster positive behaviors to avoid relapse into criminal conduct. The veterans treatment courts seek to treat veterans suffering from substance abuse and mental health disorders, while helping ensure public safety. These special courts combine rigorous treatment and personal accountability, with the goal of breaking the cycle of drug use and criminal behavior.
“As a former prosecutor, I know firsthand the dangers that drugs pose to individuals, families, and communities. Drug courts help curb repeat offenders and help drive down crime rates while saving taxpayers money,” Klobuchar said. “Veterans treatment courts are especially important for our veterans struggling to break the cycle of addiction. This grant will provide Anoka County with proven tools and treatment options that address substance abuse head-on.”
"Too often, our current criminal justice system doesn’t do enough to help people, including many veterans, who are struggling with addiction or mental illness," Franken said. "I’ve been fighting for years to bolster federal support for mental health services—including special support for veterans who need help—and to improve outcomes for people with mental illness in our criminal justice system. Minnesota is already doing some good things to improve collaboration between our criminal justice and mental health systems, and this funding will help those efforts by providing Anoka County with support to help veterans and others get the treatment and services they need.”
“One thing practicing law has taught me is that locking them up and throwing away the key is not the best solution,” Emmer said. “Our nation’s heroes and those suffering from addiction benefit most when prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation officers, and the community come together to chart a path towards restoring them to a place where they can once again contribute to our society. Those who have sacrificed so much must know that the communities they return to also support them and this grant will provide critical funding to do just that.”
Klobuchar has been a strong advocate for drug courts and a longtime supporter of veterans treatment courts. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which Klobuchar introduced with three other senators and was signed into law in July, authorized funding for veterans treatment courts. Earlier this year, Klobuchar and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) led a bipartisan letter that was signed by 32 senators to the Senate Appropriations Committee calling for funding for drug courts and veterans treatment courts.
For years, Franken—a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—has been working to improve the criminal justice system. His Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, which passed the full Senate last year, would bring more resources to law enforcement, the courts, and correctional facilities and help them better deal with the increasingly prevalent mental health issues they encounter. He's held discussions on his legislation all across Minnesota, meeting with law enforcement, advocates, and other experts on how to best reform how our criminal justice system handles mental illness.
Emmer has been a long-time advocate for our nation’s veterans. In his first term, Emmer has written two separate letters to the Department of Justice highlighting the success of Anoka County’s Veterans Treatment Court and the potential benefits an expanded drug court could bring to the county. Emmer is also a cosponsor of the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act which would allow grants for the effective treatment of those with mental health problems in the criminal justice system and promote community involvement efforts that reduce recidivism.