Veterans who return from war and commit crimes while being impacted by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could now end up with less time behind bars in Oklahoma. A new PTSD law has been approved and will go into effect at the beginning of November.
For one man's family, they're hoping that the changes in the way rulings are made could happen before the November 1 deadline. That man was accused of beating his wife, but his legal team says he does not remember doing it at all. They also said he was having flashbacks and nightmares to go along with his blackouts. Furthermore, the ex-Marine had been using both drugs and alcohol to help him cope with the PTSD.
Reports also show that the man, who served in combat in Iraq, had a traumatic brain injury that occurred during his time in the military.
The new law doesn't make a lighter sentence automatic, but gives judges the ability to consider PTSD, known as a mental illness, when handing down a sentence. Prosecutors are trying to get a life sentence for the man, but his lawyer hopes the judge will consider PTSD already, in anticipation of this law, to avoid a "gross injustice."
The Other Side
There are two sides to every story, though, and the YWCA Director of Shelter Operations, an advocate for victims of domestic violence, is worried about the law. She said that it could give a pass to those who commit serious crimes.
This law is important on a few levels, one of which is that it recognizes PTSD as a mental disorder that may realistically make someone act in a way that he or she never would have acted otherwise. As such, it's crucial for veterans who are suffering from it, and who may have committed these serious crimes as a result, to know how it's going to impact their defense options and the sentencing standards in the state. It may lower sentences for those who claim they weren't in control of their own actions and can't even remember what they've done.
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