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10/20/2021 04:26 AM
Pennsylvania State Senate
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=S&SPick=20210&cosponId=36103
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: August 20, 2021 04:44 PM
From: Senator Katie J. Muth
To: All Senate members
Subject: Post-Conviction Review for Veterans with PTSD, TBI, or other Mental Health Disability
 
In the near future I will be introducing companion legislation to HB 691 by Representative Carol Hill-Evans.

Sadly, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and mental health disabilities 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.

This legislation would allow incarcerated veterans to apply to the court for relief putting forward their diagnosis, PTSD, TBI, or mental health disability as a mitigating factor in the crime for which they were charged.  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 or other mental health disabilities. 

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.