State lawmakers last week showed bipartisan support for a bill that would allow judges to consider post-traumatic stress disorder when sentencing combat veterans.
House Bill 1104, approved by a House judiciary committee Wednesday, would allow a judge to use PTSD as a mitigating factor when sentencing a veteran professionally diagnosed with the illness and currently in treatment.
According to the bill, the vet must have “served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America in combat and been diagnosed with a post-traumatic stress disorder connected to his or her service.”
“We’ve asked our men and women in uniform to go through tough things and sometimes as a result of their experiences they suffer from post-traumatic stress. Unfortunately, that can make them engage in criminal behavior,” Rep. Grier Martin, a Wake County Democrat and Afghan War veteran.
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“I spoke to (district attorneys) about this bill and they're highly in favor of it,” said Rep. Leo Daughtry, a Johnston County Republican and the committee chairman. “I think it’s a great thing, I really do.”
Approximately 775,000 veterans and 116,000 active-duty military personnel call North Carolina home. Recent studies have shown roughly one in five Afghan and Iraq war vets struggles to cope with haunting experiences and suffers from PTSD and/or depression.
The state has special Veterans Treatment Courts near Fort Bragg in Cumberland and Harnett counties, which encourage defendants to treat underlying issues connected to criminal misconduct. Alaska, California and Oklahoma have enacted legislation similar to HB1104.