The Death Penalty-Comment Project 2
Should combat induced PTSD be considered mitigation during the penalty phase of a death penalty trial or should it be a disqualification from pursuing the death penalty? What is the difference between the two?
* Criminal Defense Attorney * Former Prosecutor * Former Parole Board Member * 724-658-8535
Student No. 8
Combat induced PTSD should be considered a mitigating factor during the penalty phase of a death penalty case, and should not be a disqualification from pursuing the death penalty. PTSD is a real problem, and if severe enough could alter the reality of the affected. A veteran may not realize what exactly they are doing or could be experiencing a flashback which causes them to react physically in the situation. However, some individuals may use this as a scape-goat. They potentially could use PTSD as an excuse for their actions wrongfully. Additionally, PTSD should not be a disqualification from pursuing the death penalty because the mental illness does not impair their ability to know right from wrong. They understand the crime they committed was wrong, though their ability to process the reality of the situation at the time was impaired. It would seem that if PTSD acted as a disqualification of the death penalty, it would be utilized abusively. Severity should be a consideration, and the individual should be evaluated to determine if the crime truly resulted from an attack of their PTSD or if they intended to commit a crime and used an illness to avoid the death penalty. Therefore, PTSD should be considered a mitigating factor rather than a complete disqualification. There is a significant difference between the two. A mitigating factor is a circumstance that can be brought up in the penalty phase of a death penalty trial that can be taken into consideration by the jury that the defendant does not deserve to receive the death penalty. A disqualification of the death penalty is a condition that completely disregards the death penalty as an option. Examples of these include being a juvenile, being intellectually disabled, or being mentally insane. These immediately throw out the possibility of receiving the death penalty.
Student No. 2
Combat induced PTSD should not be a mitigating factor. The main reason would be the fact that this is a severe mental issue. If someone can claim to be mentally instable and be sentenced to live the rest of their life out in a mental hospital for horrible crimes. There is no reason that a mental illness like PTSD should not fall under that same category. Yes, people might say they knew what they were doing was wrong, but in some cases that's not true. Some people who commit murder under PTSD are not aware they are in a safe place or not in a combat zone. They may here anything from a back fire of a car to construction and be placed back in combat by their brain. They are unknowing killing innocent people. They believe that they are protecting their fellow soldiers from whom ever they were in combat with. There is no reason that they should receive the death penalty because of something they couldn't control that happened to them when they were in combat. Now the difference between a mitigating factor and disqualification of death are that a mitigating factor is something that can be used to show a reason why that person should not receive the death penalty. The Disqualification of the death penalty is when the death penalty is ruled out as an option all together.
PTSD should be a mitigating factor and should not be DQ'd from pursing the death penalty. PTSD is a real life medical condition that should not go untreated or even worse undiagnosed. It can alter the soldier's appearance and other things about life, it gives them flashbacks. I don't think they realize what is going on and can change what they are doing. They understand what they are doing is wrong and i think it is something that should be taken very seriously. Because a lot of cases has been decided due to the fact of PTSD because the defendant claimed he suffered from it. So, it should not be something used as a "excuse". The individual should be tested for PTSD and should go through the proper channels to receive medication. There is a huge difference and the judge should be made aware. A mitigating factor is a reasons that can be brought up in the phase of a death penalty and the jury should take it because the defendant does not want to get the death penalty. Examples are kids, mentally handicapped, or the insane. They throw out the death penalty.
Student No. 7,
I believe that PTSD should be a mitigating factor during the penalty phase of a death penalty trial and not a disqualification. A mitigating factor is something that can be used to show a reason why that person should not receive the death penalty. A disqualification of the death penalty is a disregard of using the death penalty as an option. A person who suffers from PTSD should not be put to death because of their illness. Killing someone under the influence of PTSD is different from someone killing with intent and in control of their actions. He or she cannot control themselves when they are having flashbacks. It impairs one's judgement that causes them to be unaware of the surroundings and not knowing they are in a safe environment. I do, however, believe that there needs to be strict qualifications in order to use PTSD as a mitigating factor. If the person has looked for help and has been battling PTSD for a long time, I think that would qualify as a use of PTSD in a death penalty case. There should be something done because everyone has to be held accountable for his or her actions but the many factors that lead to it, I believe that someone with PTSD should not get the death penalty.
PTSD should be if nothing else a mitigating factor. It is a mental illness that limits an individuals general control over their actions. I personally disagree with with any and all usage of the death penalty, especially if the individual has a mental illness.
PTSD should not be a mitigating factor at all. The veterans that have PTSD should be treated in order to not have episodes of terror towards another person. Medicating these veterans and making them go to therapy should have a positive tendency not to act out violently. In a death penalty trail with a case that has the defendant as having a mental illness should not be a factor even if the PTSD is severe. The jury should ask the defendant if that person as receiving treatment and or was medicating themselves with the right prescription. To say that someone only acted violently due to their PTSD from war in my opinion is a cop out. It is their only way out of the death penalty and life in prison that they may or may not have parole. Each case is different and if they the defendant isn't receiving treatment at all then they should receive the death penalty.
Student No. 13
I believe that combat induced PTSD should be a mitigating factor during the penalty phase of a death penalty trail. Which also means that I believe PTSD should not be a disqualification for pursing the death penalty. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental illness that many veterans are constantly battling with even though their battle for our country has ended but are still left with battle scars. As myself being apart of the US Army National Guard, my heart goes out to all veterans suffering from PTSD especially those refusing to receive the right treatment. PTSD is not an excuse for any criminal acts, but it is a serious mental and emotional disorder should be a strong mitigating when going up against the death penalty. In some cases PTSD can not be fully treated since its a psychological disorder and even those receiving treatment can snap at any given time. Veterans have fought for our country so why aren't we fighting for them in cases like this. I just simply wish that people would have a better understanding of the extreme and long lasting effects of trauma and resulting disabilities many veterans have experienced will lead to a longer conversation about imposing capital punishment on trauma survivors and other people with serve mental illnesses.
Student # 3
PTSD is a disorder that is taken very seriously within the mental health community, as are other diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and anxiety disorders. That being said, if the court system considers slightly undeveloped healthy brains (minors particularly 17-21 year olds) a means for disqualification from the death penalty then it would be absurd to say that something that can be so difficult to live with would not also qualify for such disqualifications. At the very least it needs to me a mitigating factor. If someone is not fully aware of what is going on hwo could they be charged alongside someone who knew fully well what they were doing and what was going on?
Diving into the specification of veterans; Anyone with PTSD should be disqualified, however people who have been exposed to the brutalities of war will have experienced things most members of an average jury could never even hope to understand. So really are we qualified to answer this question?
Sure everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how valid are opinions that don't fully understand the scope of how these things work, how they impact people and how the court should address them? Ultimately I think that absolutey PTSD should be a disqualification from the death penalty, but at the very least a mitigating factor.
Disqualification means that individuals who meet these standards would under no circumstances recieve the death penatly while as mitigating factors are used as a meas to try to prevent the death penalty.
It does have the potential of being a mitigation just for the fact that it is a disorder that is diagnosed professionally. PTSD is something that is a very serious state of mind that many people suffer from. It does also deserve to be in the case of disqualification from the death penalty but in this case it needs to at least have some mitigating factors. PTSD is no different from someone who is found as clinically insane when talking about mental disorders. Although the mentally insane have different symptoms it still should not mean that those who suffer from PTSD are not worthy of the same possible outcome as those who are insane. Mitigation means the consequences will be less severe while disqualification means there is no chance at the death penalty
Combat induced PTSD should definitely be a mitigating factor during the penalty phase of a death penalty trial. However, combat induced PTSD should not be used as a disqualification to pursue the death penalty. PTSD can affect the way an individual reacts to certain situations they face. It is a very serious mental illness, but it is not something that should keep individuals from receiving the death penalty. Many may use it to get away from the sentence, but if it is used as a mitigating factor the severity of the sentence may be lowered. There may be a situation of mental illness being misdiagnosed, and it could be something else that made an individual snap, but it does not make them forget right from wrong.
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