The criminal justice system has to deal with some difficult cases. While ostensibly designed to mete out punishment, protect society from the dangerous and engage in varying degrees of rehabilitation, it is sometimes faced with handling cases where there may be no bad guys, but there seem to be many victims.
A case involving a veteran from the war in Afghanistan seems such a case. A man who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and returned home with a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), was recently arrested on federal weapons possession and drug charges.
He had purchased marijuana and possessed an AR-15 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. In 2012, he had been accused of assaulting his wife, choking his stepson and had caused a skull injury to his infant daughter.
Other indications of his PTSD included when he was arrested he commented that he wanted to return to Afghanistan and “kill and engage in radical jihad.”
Nonetheless, a judge granted a significant departure from the federal sentencing guidelines for the charges he was facing, and the man was sentenced to five year of probation instead of the guidelines recommend 30-37 months in prison.
The judge allowed the probation in order to facilitate his mental health care from the VA to treat his PTSD. The sentence also prohibited him from using drugs or alcohol, requires he maintain his mental health treatments, is tested for alcohol use and does not allow him to care for children younger than 12.
This type of plea agreement seems like the best case scenario for a veteran suffering from PTSD. Warehousing him in prison would likely result in no treatment for his mental illness, an if he lived, it likely he would only injure himself or others upon release.
KWWL.com, “Cedar Rapids veteran gets probation for weapons, drug charges,” Michael Crowe, August 28, 2014