The criminal justice system refers to governmental on nongovernmental bodies that have a primary purpose of managing the accused individuals and criminals’ convicts. The criminal justice system involves police officers, court, and correction officers. Every person is equal before the law in any country. However, some groups in society have some advantages over others, such that they will have more of the justice system involved than others. For example, veterans or military members, like any other person, are eligible to face the law if they get into criminal activities. It is assumed that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to have the justice system involved than those without PTSD (Smith, 2018). This essay explains why veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder are more likely to have the justice system involved than those without PTSD.
Veterans often involve themselves in severe encounters and fatal scenes, which can contribute to post-traumatic stress disorder development. PSTD is a mental disorder that may significantly affect veterans’ psychological well-being, resulting in their involvement in criminal activities. Veterans with PSTD are more likely to have the justice system involved than those without PSTD because the former have a higher prevalence of committing crimes or getting involved in criminal-related activities due to impaired cognitive functions. Most of the time, veterans may have a PSTD. Still, it is undiagnosed such that whenever they get involved in criminal activities, the justice system will handle them just as other everyday people do without looking into the causative factor that made them involved in the criminal activity.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a critical factor that raises veterans’ risk of criminal justice involvement. Most veterans who, at one point in their life, participated in combat encounters and involvement in the traumatizing event play a significant role in their criminal behavior. For instance, most veterans are more likely to respond with anger and brutality during a combat encounter. Such responses later may contribute to a person getting into a criminal offense, which requires the justice system’s involvement. According to the general strain theory, the risk of involving oneself in criminal activity is higher in someone who has experienced a traumatizing or scary event and has reported adverse effects such as anger or irritability. The veteran, in this case, becomes a perfect candidate because of their involvement in traumatic activities hence displaying criminal behaviors (Camins, 2019). According to various studies done on the association of veterans with post-traumatic disorder and involvement in the criminal justice system, it was found that veterans with PSTD who have at least once shown anger or irritability have a higher probability of being arrested as compared to those without post-traumatic stress disorder, anger outburst, and irritability.
Most of the veterans get themselves engaged in criminal activities due to PTSD that is undiagnosed. Most of the time, veterans who get convicted and incarcerated without being assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder end up worsening their condition due to the situation and circumstances they are exposed to while in jails and prisons. Even though the criminal justice system usually conducts mental health assessment and screening, screening for Post-traumatic stress disorder is not a universal requirement in prisons and jails; hence high chances of missing out on veterans convicted of crimes while having PSTD and this, in turn, affects their recovery because they will not have an opportunity to access better treatment.
One study on the relationship between combat exposure, crime, and veteran with PSTD revealed no association between combat exposure and crimes committed by veterans. However, the studies found that the prevalence of criminal justice involvement was sixty-one percent (61%) higher among veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder than veterans without any mental disorder (Finlay et al., 2019). Individuals of the male gender were more involved as compared to the females. Post-traumatic stress disorder was found to have a close connection with violent offenses. Examples of violent offenses the veterans with PTSD involved include sexual assault on others, physical assault, and robbery with violence. In connecting PSTD and violence, it was found that most veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder were guilty of committing violent crimes such as physical and sexual assaulting their victims.
In summation, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder have a higher prevalence of involvement with the criminal justice system than those without PTSD. Therefore, it is of the essence to install effective measures in the health care facilities and criminal justice system, such as screening for PSTD to help veterans with PSTD. Most veterans with PSTD convicted of various crimes in the criminal justice system end up worsening their condition due to the harsh environment in jails and prisons. The adequate screening will enable the identification of post-traumatic stress disorder clients. Even if convicted in the criminal justice system, they will be in a better position to receive special attention and treatment. Adequate screening of veterans before convicting them will help provide better treatment, reducing the link of PSTD veterans to the criminal justice system.
Camins, J. S. (2019). Predicting Justice Contact in Veterans with PTSD: The Incremental Validity of Specific Risk Factors (Doctoral dissertation). https://shsu-ir.tdl.org/handle/20.500.11875/2854.
Finlay, A. K., Owens, M. D., Taylor, E., Nash, A., Capdarest-Arrest, N., Rosenthal, J., & Timko, C. (2019). A scoping review of military veterans involved in the criminal justice system and their health and healthcare. Health & Justice, 7(1), 1-18. https://healthandjusticejournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s40352-019-0086-9/
Smith, B. A. (2018, July). Impact of veteran status and timing of PTSD diagnosis on criminal justice outcomes. In Healthcare (Vol. 6, No. 3, p. 80). MDPI. https://www.mdpi.com/315046.