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Setback for veteran courts in state leading the way

The economy strikes again.

Southern California has been progressive in its treatment of combat veterans who end up on the wrong side of the law. Many of those veterans, who have post-traumatic stress disorder or substance abuse problems, get treatment and strict probation through a court designed specifically for them instead of going to jail for their crimes.

But a lack of funds in the state has shut down an effort to spread the courts to more jurisdictions.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed a bill that would have set guidelines and pushed more districts to start the veterans court. The bill was passed unanimously.

"While the provisions of this bill are well-intended, they create a clear expectation that our courts — already struggling with painful budget cuts — will establish a new program," the governor wrote.

The recession hit California particularly hard, and the state has been struggling to stay above water. The Bay Citizen out of San Francisco reported that the judicial branch had to cut $350 million this year. The specialized courts are more expensive to run, but studies show the costs are offset by long-term savings, as the treatment-oriented courts reduce recidivism.

Veterans courts are a growing trend across the nation for vets who return home from war and have a hard time reintegrating into civilian life because of service-related issues. California has been ahead of the curve, offering treatment to even those vets who have committed violent crimes.

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