Impact of Veteran Status and Timing of PTSD Diagnosis on Criminal Justice Outcomes [2018]

Previous research has demonstrated that jurors show a bias towards treatment for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present research examines this bias when jurors are faced with cases of potential malingering, in which the defendant’s claim of PTSD is a perceived attempt to escape legal punishments. Trial vignettes, in which veteran status and PTSD diagnosis timing were manipulated, were used to explore this phenomenon. It was found that veterans who received their diagnosis after being arrested were found guilty more often, and were diverted to treatment less often, than those who were diagnosed before an arrest. This has critical implications for mental healthcare in that it is crucial to properly diagnose and treat people before they find themselves in court. Further, the negative outcomes in court demonstrate one of the severe social impacts of untreated or late-diagnosed PTSD.

Brandt A. Smith

Healthcare 2018, 6(3)