Walz signs legislation that offers alternative sentences for veterans convicted of crimes

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Gov. Tim Walz signed legislation Tuesday to provide veterans who committed criminal offenses as a result of service-related conditions with probation and social services instead of jail time.

The governor signed the Veterans Restorative Justice Act at the World War II Memorial in St. Paul.

"Today, I am proud to sign the Veterans Restorative Justice Act," Walz said. "This landmark legislation will help us see the bigger picture when veterans get caught in the criminal justice system. It’s time we recognize the circumstances that lead our veterans to the courtroom and better understand the complexity of the challenges veterans face when they come home."

"We know that Minnesota veterans and their families face unique challenges that sometimes last long after their service is done," Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan added. "The Veterans Restorative Justice Act takes a compassionate approach for veterans in the criminal justice system suffering PTSD and other service-related conditions, strengthening our ability to support our veterans with the resources they need to thrive."

The bipartisan legislation doesn’t exempt veterans from punishment but provides an alternative for courts to consider service-related issues like chemical exposure, physical injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder and military sexual trauma. The law applies to less-severe offenses, specifically those at Level 7 or less.

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