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06/20/2021 03:03 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=33688
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: December 21, 2020 03:20 PM
From: Representative Carol Hill-Evans
To: All House members
Subject: Post-Conviction Review for Veterans with PTSD or TBI
 
Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are common among our veterans.  These mental illnesses can affect a person’s personality and increase his or her likelihood of high-risk behavior.  Currently, veterans may present PTSD and TBI as mitigating factors during their sentencing for a crime, but not during a post-conviction review, which is no help to those who are diagnosed while in prison.  Additionally, PTSD was not recognized as a mental illness until 1980.  Therefore, veterans such as those from the Vietnam War that were sentenced prior to 1980 could not use their illness as a mitigating factor in their sentencing.
 
My legislation would allow incarcerated veterans, diagnosed after imprisonment, to apply to the court for relief putting forward their diagnosis of PTSD or TBI as a mitigating factor in the crime for which they were charged.  I believe that veterans serving an inappropriate sentence deserve the opportunity to enter their health diagnosis as evidence in their case and have a post-conviction review.
 
It has been estimated that more Vietnam veterans have died from suicide after the war than died during the war itself which goes to show that many veterans face significant mental health challenges once they return home from defending our country.  Please join me in updating our laws to help these incarcerated veterans who suffer from PTSD or TBI.
 



Introduced as HB691