YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Before sentencing, veterans who commit a crime may soon be given consideration by a judge for their military service.
The goal is rehabilitation instead of incarceration.
A bill unanimously passed by the Ohio Senate would require a court to consider a person's military service as well as their emotional, mental and physical condition before being sentenced for a crime.
The legislation proposed by Senator Joe Schiavoni would apply to both misdemeanor and felony charges.
"They have been through things that most of us haven't," Schiavoni said. "It's so, so important we consider that before they get thrown into jail and their problems aren't handled properly."
Schiavoni says the bill has bipartisan support from both legislators and judges.
Youngstown Municipal Judge Robert Milich supports the bill. He says judges shouldn't only consider what role a veteran's experiences overseas may have played in the crime, but how that experience could better their odds of rebuilding and becoming a productive part of society.
"As soon as you start getting them to talk about their military experience, which I do, you can see they stand a little taller because it was a time when they did something they were proud of, they were respected, they controlled resources, and people," said Judge Milich. "This brings it back, gives them something to build on, and you don't find that in a lot of the defendants."
The bill will now go to the Ohio House of Representatives, where it is expected to be voted on before the end of the lame duck session.