Why Veterans Justice Court Matters in Your Community


Tuesday, August 20, 2019
11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
Session Type: Workshop

Now in its sixth year of operation, San Francisco’s Veterans Justice Court (VJC) addresses the needs of veterans facing criminal charges by providing substance abuse and mental health treatment, rehabilitation, medical assistance, and other service needs. The VJC is a collaborative court program that has a problem-solving focus, a team approach to decision-making, and emphasis on the integration of social and treatment services, judicial supervision, and community outreach. Panelists will talk about three issues that make the VJC unique among veterans’ courts nationwide: (1) it is a pre-plea court that hears matters for participants charged with both felonies and misdemeanors; (2) the program offers specialized trauma-informed approaches that are unique to veterans’ needs; and (3) San Francisco works with individuals who are ineligible for care under the Veterans Administration. This workshop will include a description of current VJC program operations, including the “how-to collaborate with partner agencies” component that has made the program a citywide success.


Hon. Michael Begert
Judge, San Francisco Superior Court

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Michael Isaku Begert has presided over civil trials, criminal trials, and all of the departments within the Unified Family Court: family, dependency and juvenile justice. Judge Begert graduated from the University of Washington in 1985, and he received his J.D. from the University of Chicago with honors in 1989.

Roberto Davis
Veterans Justice Court Graduate, Veterans Justice Court

Jenna Ferarra, LCSW
VJO Case Manager, Veterans Administration - San Francisco

Allyson West
Coordinator, San Francisco Verans Justice, San Francisco Superior Court

Allyson West has 17 years experience working in criminal justice. She has volunteering at San Quentin State Prison since 2000 in educational and reentry programs. Ms. West has her BA in mathematics from UC San Diego, and did graduate work studying South Asia at UC Berkeley. Jennifer Stringham has 6 years experience working with people using a trauma informed lens. She is the clinical case manager for VJC working with veterans without VA benefits. She has a Masters degree from University of San Francisco in Marriage and Family therapy and is a licensed therapist. Jenna Ferrara is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in forensic social work. She obtained as MSW at San Francisco State University. She is a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and a clinical case managers for the Veterans Justice Court in San Francisco County.