U.S. Attorney General Holder Comes To Roanoke

Roanoke, VA - U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, was in Roanoke Thursday to look at a program helping veterans caught up in the justice system avoid a criminal record.

The idea is to focus on issues like mental illness and addiction through rehab and probation instead.

There's only one other Veteran Justice Outreach Program in the country; in Utah.

The only difference is that the Virginia program includes its own docket space for federal offenders.

It is a program that has the US Attorney's Office working together, not only with the Veteran's Administration but, with the public defender's office as well.

In two years the program has graduated seven veterans, most of whom were charged with minor non-violent misdemeanors.

The idea: Break the cycle of crime and addiction through strict supervision and rehabilitation; without the additional burden of a record.

"It's good for the nation as a whole because it means we don't spend as much money incarcerating people, housing them, warehousing them. So we want to expand the program we saw here to other places," said Holder.

While one person charged with a felony has completed the program it has not been officially opened to charged felons - but is likely the next step.

Holder also took off topic questions including his take on former Governor Bob McDonnell's accentuation that federal indictments against him are an over reach of the government.

"Ultimately there will be a trial and we will present, in a more fulsome, way what we think the defendants did in that matter. But, um... I really reject the notion that this is overreaching on the part of government," said Holder.