Archive for Monday, January 25, 2010

Proposed bill would let judges reduce sentences for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder

January 25, 2010


— Judges would be able to reduce sentences for defendants who are combat veterans and have post-traumatic stress disorder, under a bill being considered by the Kansas Legislature.

The measure is being pushed by state Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, who said his aim is to assist returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who become entangled in the criminal justice system to get the help they may need if they are suffering from PTSD.

“They are returning from very stressful situations,” Sloan said. “If they get in trouble, maybe they don’t need to go to prison, but they need to get services.”

The measure, House Bill 2430, will be heard in the House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee on Tuesday.

The bill would give a judge the discretion to allow a departure from sentencing guidelines if the defendant has been diagnosed with PTSD and served in combat zones.

Committee Chairwoman Pat Colloton, R-Leawood, said several states are trying ways to connect returning veterans who run afoul of the law with needed health and social services.

She said the proposals aren’t intended to excuse unlawful behavior but to get at the root of the problem and try to help

Sloan said he got the idea for the bill after discussions with Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, the Kansas adjutant general.

Recent reports have indicated that as many 300,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, which is nearly 20 percent of returning forces, are likely to suffer PTSD or major depression.


Steve Jacob 8 years, 4 months ago

Make sure you read about Nancy Kerrigan's brother killing her father yesterday. He has post-traumatic stress disorder. Does he deserve a lighter sentence? Just asking?

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 4 months ago

I think this is a good idea. Those of us who have not been there have no idea what life is like for those soldiers. I am assuming that they would have to be diagnosed and then go though with therapy and show some real changes. Murder? Surely not, this would be for something like an unarmed robbery, drunk and fighting, a DUI, etc.

Shane Garrett 8 years, 4 months ago

PTSD is something that Bin Laden will view as a victory. Thanks GWB for giving the us 60,000 messed up mental cases. And thanks Bin Obama for giving us the rest. I say K2 for all of them.

grimpeur 8 years, 4 months ago

"Surely not, this would be for something like..a DUI, etc."

I certainly hope not.

DRsmith 8 years, 4 months ago

Great...another excuse for the crazies to stay on the lose. Terrible idea.

geekin_topekan 8 years, 4 months ago

Yeah? Lots of people have PTSD, some at the hands of those that they absolutely trust and have to depend upon, not through voluntary action.

Horrible legislation. We can not hold a group above the law and withhold the same consideration from others.

My gratitude to those who have served but this piece is another repub effort to turn America into a police state.

50YearResident 8 years, 4 months ago

Just send them to Fort Hood, they have some really good military therapists there.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

no, sorry. just because you've been to war does not give you the right to come home and be a belligerent pile. If fewer of these guys came home to a bottle of Jack, and more came home to a smokable flower, perhaps this would help reduce PTSD.

Nancy Kerrigan's brother was intoxicated at the time of the assault on his father.

Jimo 8 years, 4 months ago

A. This would need to integrated into a treatment approach for everyone with PTSD. (I didn't realize that non-veterans were second class citizens.) B. This would need to be limited to relatively minor crimes. (It is of little concern to the victim whose skull is caved in whether the criminal is a veteran or not.)

Stuart Evans 8 years, 4 months ago

Thing, please enlighten us as to how alcohol is not a real factor in how people with mental illness try to treat themselves. Please show me your evidence that shows how marijuana use isn't safer than alcohol use.

Alcohol use is responsible for 25-30% of all violent acts. It seems reasonable that people who would choose marijuana over alcohol would not be inclined to commit violence.

Or you could just continue to call people names, because you don't understand what they are saying.

billbodiggens 8 years, 4 months ago

This bill is little more that election year grandstanding. By what level of proof is PTSD to be determined. What types of PTSD should be considered. It's a mess. "

This is actually beyond a mess, "Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, who said his aim is to assist returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who become entangled in the criminal justice system to get the help they may need if they are suffering from PTSD." This a bald faced lie. There is no help that can be given in the criminal justice system for PTSD. The legislature has seen to it that any such programs for mental health in the criminal justice system is to simply lock them up. The legislature has also as seen to it that any mental health programs wherever located in the state are without any substance. You don't talk programs and help without talking how you are going to pay for it. GET REAL Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence. Quit using the plight of veterans just for your political gain. Long on talk, very very very short on substance.

justthefacts 8 years, 4 months ago

Judges do not need this power. They already have it. When giving a sentence, even one that deviates from the grid, they can decide to be lenient. They just have to give reasons. And if a defendant is found guilty, but there is some reason to mitigate the punishment, the judge should be able to make that decision. Otherwise, we'd not need humans on the bench; a computer would do fine.

Danimal 8 years, 4 months ago

Those of us with our faculties can't imagine the depths of PTSD. It's a mental illness, we already let "crazy" people off with a relative slap on the wrist, like the man that burned down the Boardwalk apartments a few years back. I see no harm in reduced sentencing.

The simple truth is that everybody loves a war, they don't want to pay for or fight in it, and they want to deny veterans the services they need when they return home, but people seem to generally like the idea of it. I know someone will try and jump on me for this, and in a preemptive response I'll point to the critically and chronically underfunded and understaffed Department of Veterans Affairs. Americans tend to spend money on things they care about. Right now there are around half a million homeless vets in this country, and potentially millions more suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses, those are the real fruits of war. We need to offer them treatment, not more time in prison. We've seen how effective that system is at rehabilitation.

Mariposa 8 years, 4 months ago

In an ideal world, all those with a mental illness would get care. But, we must also remember that the clinical definition of "crazy" may not be what the common definition is. It would make for an interesting world if those who committed a crime could say to the judge, "Well, I was feeling out of sorts that day." Of course, the judge could then reply, "I'm feeling out of sorts right now!" Thorny issue.

marymo70 8 years, 4 months ago

Danimal, you are so right! Living out this nightmare with my son.

ferrislives 8 years, 4 months ago

I absolutely support our military, but this idea is a slippery slope!

legionanon 8 years, 4 months ago

there is no such thing as post traumatic stress disorder. and they should have to do the time like everyone else.

leedavid 8 years, 4 months ago

I am a 20 year vet and I do not support this idea. Just because a person is a vet we want to look into the reasons for the crime then punish accordingly? Do we do that for anyone else? If a vet commits a crime due to PTSD then classify them as mentally incompetent.

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