Prosecutors are known for being tough on crime. But in Minnesota legal circles, Assistant Anoka County Attorney C. Blair Buccicone has gained notice for extending a helping hand to wayward veterans.
Five years ago, Buccicone proposed that Anoka County create a Veteran’s Treatment Court, which is supported by a partnership of governmental and community agencies to assist law-troubled vets address chemical dependency, mental health, housing, and social issues. Buccicone won the support of the county attorney’s office, the district judiciary, social services department and public defenders to launch the special court.
Since the court’s creation, Buccicone has coordinated a formal training program for the tribunal and in the last year helped win a $300,000 federal grant for the Treatment Court, said Anoka County District Court Judge Jenny Jasper, who nominated him for Minnesota Lawyer’s 2016 Attorneys of the Year.
Buccicone, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, comes from a long line of family members who have served in the U.S. military. “I was raised to respect the sacrifice that comes with agreeing to put your life on the line for your country,” he said.
At the same time, Buccicone saw the toll that military service took on his family, noting his father and brother both suffered symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Veterans are jewels in our community; sometimes jewels get buried under things that are burdensome to remove,” Buccicone said. “I decided to help with the work making them shine. We can help them while increasing the safety in the community.”
To date, the Veterans Treatment Court has been a big success. “Among our graduates, 70 percent were recidivists upon entry [into the court program],” said Buccicone, who graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2005 and has been practicing ever since. “Of our approximately 30 graduates, we only have one recidivist.”
Buccicone said, “The success stories in my job are where you help victims heal by finding the correct balance between punitive measures and rehabilitative opportunities.”