A North Carolina judge sent a war veteran to jail but reportedly did the sentence with him to show support.
District Court Judge Lou Olivera sentenced former Green Beret Sgt. Joseph Serna to one day in jail for violating his probation after he lied about his urine test, which turned up positive for alcohol, WTVD notes. But when Serna turned himself in to spend the night in jail, Olivera met him there and served the sentence with him in the same cell.
"The judge comes in … and so we’re sitting there and they lock the door and I realized, oh, we’re going to stay the night," Serna told WRAL. "He’s going to stay the night here with me."
Olivera is a Gulf War veteran himself and said he was worried that the isolation of a jail cell could trigger Serna's PTSD, according to WTVD. Serna was a Special Forces soldier and was deployed four times, including three combat tours in Afghanistan. He reportedly turned to alcohol to cope when he came home.
He got a DWI charge and entered the Cumberland County's Veterans Treatment Court program, which is run by Olivera.
"We are not expecting them to trust us overnight, but it's a relationship that is built," Olivera told WTVD. "That's why when there is a violation, the team comes around and says 'hey you have to square yourself away.' "
The two reportedly talked about their military service as they served the four-hour sentence.
“They have worn the uniform and we know they can be contributing members of society," Olivera told WRAL. "We just want to get them back there."
Serna has been fighting addiction, which is why he is in the veterans treatment court program.
“It’s a treatment court, but it’s a treatment court that’s targeted to those veterans who keep on appearing in the court system for particular reasons,” Olivera said.
This is the first time Olivera has spent a night in jail, but he told WTVD that he would have done the same for any of the other dozen veterans in his treatment court.