Veterans & the Death Penalty: Why Are We Killing Veterans?

In its 2015 edition, the University of St. Thomas Law Journal will publish Minneapolis criminal defense attorney and St. Thomas grad Joshua London’s recent manuscript, Why Are We Killing Veterans? The Repugnance and Incongruity of the U.S. Government Executing Psychologically Wounded Veterans.

An Argument Against the Death Penalty for Wounded Veterans – Abstract

The United States government trains the most effective killers the world has ever seen and, understanding the psychological cost, sends them to face the horrors of war. These experiences often result in the returning veteran being far different from the young soldier that left home. The person who returns has been programmed; programmed to react to perceived threats automatically and with overwhelming force, to end human life without hesitation, to handle weapons, and to excel in a system that values the appearance of strength and courage.

Many of these warriors experience traumatizing events in combat that will remain embedded in their psyche for years to come. Like each of their predecessors, the Iraq and Afghan Wars have been accompanied by a tidal wave of invisible psychological and physiological wounds that, too often, manifest in the form of abnormal behavior, unfit for civilized communities and unfit for peace. Inevitably, in those suffering most severely, symptoms of a psychological injury will conspire with deadly training to create the perfect storm.

What should happen when the storm culminates in a veteran causing the death of another person? In this article, Mr. London demonstrates why a veteran-defendant who has committed a capital crime should not be subject to the death penalty when his conduct can be linked to a service-connected disorder.

The Minnesota criminal defense attorneys at Brockton D. Hunter P.A. provide highly specialized criminal defense focused on the unique issues involved when veterans face criminal charges. As the Operations Officer of the Veterans Defense Project, a non-profit organization founded by Brock Hunter and Ryan Else, Joshua London was heavily involved the final stages of editing and preparing The Attorney’s Guide to Defending Veterans in Criminal Court, a book guiding criminal defense attorneys in the art and science of effectively representing veteran-defendants.