Not long ago, one out of every five prisoners in America was a Vietnam vet. More and more veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are showing up behind bars and many are being charged with violent crime. Experts are saying that there’s a common thread that often runs through these cases, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
Increasingly, post traumatic stress is taking center stage across the country, in the jails and in the courthouses. It’s believed that hundreds of thousands of recent vets are suffering from PTSD, but what’s making some of them snap? And what is being done to combat what many see as an approaching storm?
In Phoenix, Arizona, there is the Maricopa County 4th Avenue jail. It’s actually one of the most high-tech jails in America. There are about 10,000 prisoners in the Maricopa County System. Most are being held for small misdemeanors. The 70 men in one unit are charged with violent crimes like armed robbery, rape, and assault. A handful are accused of murder and Kaj is there to visit one of them.
Clark Fish is 24. He spends the majority of his days locked in a 6 by 14 cell. Clark passes the time by prepping for his defense, exercising, and decorating his body. Clark is there because he’s been arrested and charged with the murder of his girlfriend. He maintains his innocence. In the two and a half years, while Clark has been there awaiting trial, he’s developed the habit of meticulously organizing his cell.
As a veteran himself, Kaj could tell Clark had served in the military by the way he folded his socks. But there was something else he thought he recognized in Clark too, something less obvious. Clark is suffering from PTSD. He was diagnosed with the condition after a six-month deployment to Iraq.
Watch the full documentary now - 43 min