DeKALB COUNTY – DeKalb County State’s Attorney Rick Amato’s office has introduced a program to help military veterans facing certain criminal charges.
The Stacia Hollinshead Veterans Program is designed to help veterans facing certain criminal charges get rehabilitative services, helping them become productive members of the community, according to a news release from the state’s attorney’s office.
The program is formed through a partnership of DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office and DeKalb County Veteran Assistance Commission.
“Both recognize that military service exposes service members to profoundly dangerous and stressful circumstances,” the release said.
The physical and psychological trauma can have lasting effects and contribute to depression, anxiety, anger, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance use disorders, which can increase the likelihood of criminal behavior, according to the release.
The state’s attorney’s office may regard current and former military service as a factor when determining plea offers, the release states. In making an offer to those with a record of military service, county prosecutors may offer rehabilitative and treatment-based sentences instead of other sentences.
The state’s attorney’s office will not consider domestic battery, sex offenses or aggravated violent offenses for the program.
A veteran charged with a crime should tell their attorney of their veteran status, the release said. The attorney should notify the prosecutors if the veteran wishes to participate in the program. Prosecutors then will ask the veteran to submit an application, which includes consent forms.
The veteran must follow program procedures, including a mental health and substance use evaluation and prosecutors will recommend treatment, according to the release. Once the veteran successfully completes the program, the case would be resolved with a less severe sentence.
If the veteran fails to complete the program, the case will return to the courts for prosecution and sentencing on the original charge, similar to probation.
Stacia Hollinshead, 30, of Sycamore, was a prosecutor, Northern Illinois University law school alumna, U.S. Army veteran and had just been hired as a DeKalb County assistant state’s attorney in November, when she was shot to death March 23. Her ex-husband, Ulisses W. Medina Espinosa, 31, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, has been charged with first-degree murder.
“I am pleased to make the program available to those who have served their country and need an extra hand in their return to civilian life,” Amato said. “This is an excellent and honorable tribute to Stacia, who served her country and her community with honor and sacrifice.”