Governor Charlie Baker has repealed Massachusetts' Valor Act, which gave lower court judges the option to send veterans to treatment programs, rather than arraign them on criminal charges.
The Valor Act was meant to help those dealing with substance abuse but ended up being used to help some veterans avoid jail time for assault, including assaults on women. It’s being repealed with a new bill that will no longer divert serious charges such as assault and battery with a deadly weapon or strangulation.
Thirty-year-old Jacqueline Boltik says she’ll never forget the night she was attacked outside her apartment.
“I was biking back from the grocery store," she recalled. "I was right in front of my apartment in the bike lane and out of nowhere I saw someone charging towards me then tackling me kind of football style.”
Boltik says her attacker never got charged because he’s a veteran and under the state's Valor Act, he was instead sent to a diversion program. The Valor Act sought to provide diversion to education rather than criminally charge veterans.
Senator William Brownsberger supports the new bill in place.
“We don’t want to be diverting the most serious cases particularly involving victims, so we limited the kind of offenses that could be diverted,” Sen. Brownsberger said.
Also, starting this month, a first-time drunk driving offense will now result in diversion rather than a DUI.
Sen. Brownsberger said, “What this does is give the veteran that has a problem that’s related to their service one extra bite at the apple on drunk driving cases."