By MICHAEL LYLE
VIEW STAFF WRITER
Albert Gutierrez was too old to continue down the path he was on, which included sleepless nights locked up in jail. Years of alcohol abuse had left the 70-year-old U.S. Army veteran in trouble with the law and estranged from his family.
When the treatment court known as Veterans Court was made an option to him, he had a choice.
“Some of the younger people (who could go through Veterans Court) said they would rather go to jail 30 days and be done instead going through the program,” Gutierrez said. “I decided I’d rather do the program. This program saves lives.”
About eight years ago, a law was created to establish veterans courts in Nevada. Henderson Judge Mark Stevens, who is also a veteran, brought that into reality at the Henderson Municipal Court about five years ago.
The program treats underlying problems by helping participants who have had run-ins with the law get into court-ordered counseling, find treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or receive any drug or alcohol addiction counseling if they need it. In some cases, defendants also have to go through treatment for domestic violence.