Franklin L.C. Dunn, who is currently serving a seven-year sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, joined the Army to provide a better life for his family and to answer our nation’s call to serve. While serving as a Military Police Officer in Afghanistan during his second deployment, Franklin shot and killed an Afghani National Police security guard during his own shift working as a security guard. Franklin has no history of violence other than the offense for which he is currently serving time, which he committed as a result of mental illness caused by traumatic experiences at war. Franklin now seeks clemency relief pursuant to President Obama’s power under Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. His petition requests his immediate release from detention and a reduction of his conviction from murder to manslaughter.
Franklin served with honor during his first deployment in Afghanistan, evidenced by his receipt of a Combat Action Badge and Army Commendation Medal. Franklin was caught in two suicide bomber attacks, once while delivering mail and once while guarding a customs area near the Pakistani border. The second attack left him unconscious. After these attacks, Franklin began suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with symptoms including insomnia, recurring nightmares, hyperarousal, hypervigilance, intrusive memories related to combat, and stimulus avoidance. Between deployments, he expressed concerns about being deployed again, but the individual who evaluated him dismissed his concerns and his commander did not believe he was traumatized. This is unsurprising given that consciousness about the prevalence of PTSD has been slow to take hold within the Army.
Franklin should never have been deployed a second time. But he was, and the crime for which he was convicted is inseparable from his combat-related trauma. When he committed the offense, Franklin was experiencing extreme anguish caused by his mental illnesses, which he acquired through no fault of his own. Having served five years in Ft. Leavenworth, he has now completed more than half his sentence. Franklin deeply regrets his crime and the pain it has brought the victim’s family. He has received medication and therapy while at Ft. Leavenworth, which has helped alleviate his PTSD symptoms. Franklin is unlikely to reoffend given that his offense was combat-specific, and he will no longer serve in the military.
Franklin Dunn respectfully requests clemency. The United States Supreme Court has recognized that “[o]ur Nation has a long tradition of according leniency to veterans in recognition of their service, especially for those who fought on the front lines.” Porter v. McCollum, 558 U.S. 30, 42 (2009). Likewise, we as a nation, and President Obama specifically, should acknowledge that Franklin’s compromised emotional state while deployed for the second time resulted from trauma during his first deployment, and an exercise of leniency is proper. Franklin hopes to be released from USDB to reunite with his children and begin productively contributing to society by working and going back to school.