There’s an intriguing little article that raises a big question in the new December issue of the Atlantic. “Nearly 80 veterans courts have sprung up across the country over the past four years,” writes reporter Kristina Shevory in “Prisoners of War.” The defendants are accused of breaking local laws, and local prosecutors and judges are trying them. But these are veterans who have come home from fighting the nation’s wars with psychological issues, and the judges and prosecutors are likely to be veterans too. They are prepared to show compassion and to tailor punishment to rehabilitation. An official of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals commented, “Many courts are saying ‘Wait a second. These offenders have no criminal history, their family says they didn’t have any problems before going to war — we need to give them a second chance.'”

Who could disagree? The ACLU, for one. An ACLU official tells Shevory, “The idea of an entirely different court system based on status doesn’t make sense. Does that mean a police officer who is accused of a crime should have a separate court because of his stress?”