Why Are So Many Veterans on Death Row?

By Jeffrey Toobin

A new study shows that at least ten per cent of death-row inmates are military veterans.

The death penalty has always provided a window into the darkest corners of American life. Every pathology that infects the nation as a whole—racism, most notably—also affects our decisions about whom to execute. A new report from the Death Penalty Information Center adds a new twist to this venerable pattern.

The subject of the report, just in time for Veterans Day, is the impact of the death penalty on veterans. The author, Richard C. Dieter, the longtime executive director of the invaluable D.P.I.C., estimates that “at least 10% of the current death row—that is, over 300 inmates—are military veterans. Many others have already been executed.” In a nation where roughly seven per cent of the population have served in the military, this number alone indicates disproportionate representation. But in a nation where military service has traditionally been seen as a route into the middle class—and where being a vet has been seen as more of a benefit than a burden—the military numbers are especially disturbing.

Why are so many veterans on death row? Dieter asserts that many veterans “have experienced trauma that few others in society have ever encountered—trauma that may have played a role in their committing serious crimes.” Although this is hardly the case with every veteran, or even the overwhelming majority of them, Dieter goes on to relate several harrowing stories that follow this model. Because of such traumas, many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, for which they have too often received poor treatment, or none at all.

Veterans who kill are not, by and large, hit men or members of organized crime or gangs. They very often lash out at those around them. Dieter notes that a third of the homicide victims killed by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan were family members or girlfriends. Another quarter were fellow service members. This record suggests that, if these veterans had received adequate mental-health care, at least some of them and their victims might have had a different fate.

But it’s possible to see, in the D.P.I.C. study, an echo of another recent high-profile study. Anne Case and Angus Deaton, of Princeton, found that the death rates for middle-aged white men have increased significantly in the past decade or so. This was largely due, according to the authors, to “increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis.” The Princeton study fits into a larger pattern in American life, which is the declining health and fortunes of poorly educated American whites.

That cohort has gravitated to military service for generations. And while, again, most veterans never commit any crime, much less crimes that carry the death penalty, the sour legacies of our most recent wars certainly play into the despair of many veterans. Earlier generations of veterans came home from war to ticker-tape parades, a generous G.I. Bill, and a growing economy that offered them a chance at upward mobility. Younger veterans returned to P.T.S.D., a relatively stagnant economy, especially in rural and semi-rural areas, and an epidemic of drug abuse. And they came home to a society where widening income inequality suggested the futility of their engagement with the contemporary world.

In an interview with Vox, Deaton said that the death rate for members of this cohort had increased, in part, because they had “lost the narrative of their lives.” This elegant, almost poetic phrase can be read to include the lost promise of military service—the vanished understanding that veterans earned more than a paycheck, that they also gained a step up in status, both economic and social. The reality has been that many veterans returned to lives that were materially and spiritually worse than the ones they left, and far worse than the ones they expected.

According to the Princeton study, a shocking number of poorly educated whites turned their rage inward, in the form of drug abuse and suicide. But a small handful inflicted their rage on others, and an even smaller number wound up on death row. They are different groups of people, and their individual stories are even more variegated, but it’s possible to see across them the symptoms of a broader anguish.

CONTINUE READING…

Make no mistakes…

 

 

sassy

 

In My Opinion

SMKrider

1/24/2014 8:35:49 PM

Make no mistake about it we are at war within our own country.  In fact the whole world is at war with each other.  Furthermore we have been at war in

Make no mistake about it we are at war within our own country. In fact the whole damn world is at war with each other.

Furthermore, we have been at war in our own country since the arrival of the Mayflower. But for this opinion I will only go back as far as September 11, 2001. The day the world changed forever for the citizens of the United States.

When the attack on the World Trade Center’s occurred on that day, we all assumed that it was a foreign entity which had cursed us with that attack. There are doubts about that scenario now. But it really does not matter what “entity” commanded that the attack take place. It only matters that it did and how it changed our perception of reality forever.

We were in shock. We were taken advantage of. We were misguided and conveniently suppressed of information. That information was the truth about what was about to happen us in the following ten years. In those years following we have become increasingly more oppressed and depressed as a general population.

We are becoming desperate as can be seen in the uprisings around the world, a general displeasure of the people can be seen across all countries, races, ethnic groups, civil rights advocates, and last but not least the OCCUPY movement which has went around the world. Violence is ever increasing.

The laws are ever changing and becoming more invasive of our private lives. Censorship and video surveillance have become the norm of our lives and freedom of speech although seemingly rampant and ongoing at the present online will meet its maker with passage of new laws to censor our every move across the World Wide Web.

“As if they haven’t been tracking us for the past ten years anyway”…

Like an owl swooping down on his prey, in the name of security we have lost almost all of our rights as U.S. Citizens. The Constitution is becoming nothing more than a historical document to put in a museum.

What happened to “government of the people, by the people and for the people”? It has become a plutocracy, “of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich”. How do we win this war? We won’t. They are smarter than us. We have proven that already by buying into the surveillance of virtually every moment of our daily lives via face book and other social networks. All of this technology came about for our convenience and we were naïve enough to carry it in through our front doors and even into our bedrooms. We are all walking tracking devices in one form or another or even multiple ways.

Who is running the government? We do not really know. Where did all the money go? We do not really know. Who ordered the attack on the World Trade Center’s? We don’t really know. Who can we trust? We do not know. Can you trust your bank? Can you trust your doctor or the pharmaceutical company that makes the real snake oil of this millennium? Probably not. If you can, you are one of the lucky few.

So now that we have spent the last 40 odd years protesting for one thing or another and all the faith, hope and respect has faded in the grave what do we do now? We have effectively completed their mission for them by creating the very thing that they needed to invoke “security for the country”. Do we have a voice? Yes. Do they hear us? Yes. Do they care what we think? Absolutely not. They are into their own agenda of the NWO and that is all there is to it. There is no stopping the bastards. They have more money, more “security forces” conveniently brainwashed into their agenda, and a lot more bullets than we, the people, could ever come up with. It would be another bloody civil war that would make the last one look like a walk in the park. They have us lock, stock and barrel.

You may argue the point that we still have our voting rights. And that would be a valid point. However, for some unknown reason most of the country still chooses not to exercise that right. The vote hasn’t been legitimate for many years and ignorance is or at least was bliss. It isn’t anymore.

So plant your gardens. Stock up on necessities as much as you can. And make an “escape” plan, (with an alternate plan “B”) just in case chaos breaks out near you. That is providing martial law hasn’t been invoked yet and your neighborhood isn’t staked off.

Say your prayers and ask forgiveness for your sins. Plan for the worst and hope and pray for the best.

Then just sit back, relax and watch what happens.

  “We know you can see us