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November 11, 2017

"Roughly one in 12 people in America’s prisons and jails is a veteran"

Veterans-day-thank-you-quotesThe title of this post is one of a number of notable facts reviewed in this new webpage up at Families Against Mandatory Minimums. The page carries the simple heading "Veterans Day," and here are excerpts:

Kenny. Ronald. Warren. Michael. All of these men served in our country’s Armed Forces.  Between them, their service extended to all branches of the military and earned them several Purple Hearts and other distinctions. They served bravely and with courage, and we honor them and all veterans today.

Ronald, Michael, Warren, and Kenny are also prisoners and former prisoners.  Roughly one in 12 people in America’s prisons and jails is a veteran.  Often, they’ve ended up in prison because of behavior resulting from injuries and trauma sustained during service.  Many are serving absurdly long sentences for low-level drug offenses, having turned to drugs as a way of coping with PTSD and adjusting to life after tours of duty.  And almost always, they are forgotten on this solemn day.

Our message today is simple:

  • Judges need discretion at sentencing to consider the reasons our country’s veterans ended up on the wrong side of the law.
  • The evidence of America’s failed war on drugs is in heartbreaking relief when you consider the lives of veterans— who put their lives on the line for our country — now serving inhumane mandatory minimum sentences.
  • The service to our country of incarcerated veterans is no less appreciated because of your incarceration. You are not forgotten. Thank you for your service.

Some sobering facts to think about today:

  • More than 75 percent of incarcerated veterans received honorable discharges from the military.
  • An estimated two thirds of those serving prison sentences discharged from service between 1974 and 2000, a period spanning several wars including Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
  • Of the total number of persons incarcerated, about half were diagnosed with a mental disorder, frequently Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
  • Sixty-four percent of incarcerated veterans have been sentenced for violent offenses, as opposed to only 48 percent of other prisoners. (That single fact has resulted in both longer and harsher sentences for veterans.)

Some good news:

  • Overall, the veteran prison population has shrunk.
  • As both the Veterans Administration and the courts have begun to understand this particular issue, the situation for veterans has improved. The veteran prison population has dropped as the Veterans Administration works to provide outreach and support to returning vets, including the provision of Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist.
  • Probation officers and corrections staff are being trained to immediately identify veterans upon sentencing, and then to connect the veteran with a Veterans Justice Outreach Specialist who can advise and support the veteran.

November 11, 2017 at 04:41 PM | Permalink


They killed abroad and got a medal and now they get to come home and kill here too. No medal but a get out of jail free card. Yay for America!

Posted by: Vets for Justice | Nov 11, 2017 5:04:44 PM

I feel another false mitigating factor percolating up. You fucking asshole lawyers.

Posted by: David Behar | Nov 11, 2017 5:56:23 PM

Of course, veteran status is an aggravating factor. Veterans were screened. They were superior to the general population. They endured training requiring great discipline and self control, to go forward in the face of live fire, not to run away, to coordinate attacks, to plan ahead, to judge great uncertainty, and to obey inscrutable orders. PTSD makes people try to avoid conflict, not hurt others.

What makes them hurt others are traditional reasons. Alcohol and caffeine addiction. Antisocial personality. Paranoid and mood disorders with onset after discharge, the average age being in the 30's and 40's.

Because being veteran implies training to hurt people, veterans are more dangerous than matched non-veterans. They should be incapacitated more than non-veterans.

The above reports, 1 in 12 prisoners are veterans. That validates veteran status as a protective factor against criminality. 1 in 4 adult males in the United States are veterans. Because of the screening, training, treatment, being a vet makes one more likely to be a moral, upstanding, productive person, and drops the chance of committing a crime by 2/3.

Making this a mitigating factor, is similar in logic to the Leona Helmsley defense. Juries did not buy it. She evaded $4 million in taxes, after claiming work on her private home as a business deduction. She claimed to have paid $400 million in taxes. What is $4 million after paying 100 times more? That should mitigate her culpability and sentencing. Jury did not accept that argument.

Posted by: David Behar | Nov 11, 2017 11:26:11 PM

Behar, back into your straightjacket please!

Posted by: Todd | Nov 12, 2017 10:33:31 AM

Hi, Todd. You really should throw away that KGB Handbook you picked out of the wet trash. It makes you look stupid and desperate.

Posted by: David Behar | Nov 12, 2017 12:18:31 PM

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