The insanity defense has been quite a controversial subject. It has been used by some of the most baleful criminals in history. Its controversy derives from the belief that people who plead insanity are excused from the fault of their crimes. Surprisingly however, this defense is rarely used because of how hard it is to prove legal insanity. Less than one percent of criminals choose to plead insanity and of those who choose to plead insanity the success is quite low at 25 percent.( Rolf. p. 2) This defense has been around for centuries. It can be dated back to the 14th century. Kings were willing to pardon crimes to those who were deemed “mad”. By the 18th century the “ wild beast” test was developed by some English courts. However, the
"Not Guilty, By reason of Insanity!" These words have stung the ears of many courtroom observers, especially the families and friends of victims whose lives were snuffed out by a so-called 'insane' assailant. While there are indeed many insane people running around the streets today, I feel that many persons who use the temporary insanity defense are more conniving than insane. Also, being an inexact science, the psychiatric community often offers up differing opinions as to any particular individual's sanity. Furthermore, money or lack thereof can play a major role in the success or failure of an insanity defense. The temporary insanity defense should therefore be abolished, especially for felony offenses such as murder.
"Insanity is defined as a mental disorder of such severity as to render its victim incapable of managing his affairs or conforming to social standards." (Insanity, pg. 1) It is used in court to state that the defendant was not aware of what he/she was doing at the time of the crime, due to mental illnesses. But insanity is a legal, not a medical, definition. There is a difference between mental illness and going insane. Many problems are raised by the existence of the insanity defense. For example, determining the patient's true mental illness (whether they are faking or not), placement of the mentally ill after trial, the credibility of the psychological experts, the percentage of cases that are actually successful,
The purpose of the insanity defense is to protect the defendants that are found to be mentally ill. Although insanity may be difficult to prove, it gives the opportunity for others to prove that they are not mentally competent to understand the severe degree of their actions. An accused that is not mentally stable, is not able to stand trial like every other criminal. They have to find a different approach during their trial. They cannot think rationally, and they are not in contact with reality so therefore, they have the chance to use the plea. The defense is idea to those who actually have a mental disorder or have a history of dealing with a mental disorder.
The insanity defense was created to help protect people from the law, specifically those who due to serious mental illness could not be held accountable for their actions, regardless of how horrific they were. (Insanity, Religion, Terrorism 238) There should be no prejudice based on the mental deficiencies, incompetency, and mental illness of a person. Rather, the law should be malleable to be inclusive of everyone. The Constitution of United States represents the national framework of the government. The abolition of the insanity defense violates the Fourteenth Amendment, which is the Due Process Clause. Due Process Clause explicitly states no person shall be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”, due process meaning fair procedures. Within the Constitution also lies the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishments. To put a mentally ill or incompetent person on stand is a cruel and unusual punishment. Therefore although the public does not have a full comprehension of how the insanity defense works, in order to abide by the United States Constitution insanity defense MUST be available in a criminal matter.
This is unacceptable and a major issue in a broken criminal justice system. Diagnosed mentally ill patients should not be in prison, they need help that only a mental health facility can offer them. There is a difference between being mentally ill and being a criminal. It is no secret that the state has used the prison system as a dumping ground for the mentally ill. Common sense would lead an observer to conclude that a prison environment is not the best place for a person who is suffering from mental illness.
The word insanity is used by a defender in criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime by using a mental illness as a justification. Insanity is the mental state of not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality, lack of conduct affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior (Lilienfeld 2009). In the article, Rethinking the Revolving Door Dereck Denckla argues that “while the number of people with mental illness in state psychiatric hospitals has decreased precipitously over the last thirty years, the number of mentally-ill people in jails and prisons has steadily increased (Denckla 2001).” This is because psychiatrists are leaving there patients unattended letting them cause damage to innocent people. However, threw out the years defendants have gotten away with insanity defense and delinquents now want to use this form of excuse as well. Insanity defense has made it difficult for the courts to determine an answer since they will need sufficient evidence to determine whether the defendant is guilty or freed because of psychological disorder. Cases like these should be taken to another level of
Using insanity defense as an available option for criminals to get lesser punishment is a very controversial topic. There are many flaws within this law that should be taken into consideration when deciding if insanity defense should be abolished. Taking into account the strengths and weakness of this topic, it is clear that the insanity defense should most definitely be abolished.
The insanity plea is a poor excuse for serious lawbreakers, and should have no bearing in the sentencing of criminals. All criminal cases today have three ways in which a defendant can plea. Guilty, not guilty, or Insanity.
In this article I will consider whether the current claw defence of insanity is ineffective, out-dated and in need of reform. I will do so by contemplating several criticism of the insanity defence arising from the M’Naghten rules .
Forensic psychology has had a lot of debates on the insanity defense. This paper serves as a review to explain why the article I’m reviewing relates to the insanity defense. The article I’m reviewing is called Psychosis and Substance Use: Implications for Conditional Release Readiness Evaluations.
Although the idea of the “insanity defense” is state mandated and not federally acknowledged, it has drastically shifted overall throughout the course of time. The primary debate has now shifted from the sole focus on “insanity defense” to the idea of the death penalty and how it should be addressed in cases of serious mental illness or disabilities. Each state has specific laws surrounding all aspects of mental illness and how that should relate to the severity of the charges. “Currently in the United States, forensic mental-health professionals (psychiatrists, social workers, and psychologists) conduct the determination of whether the defendant fits the Black’s Law Dictionary definition of insanity at the time of the crime” (Richie et al, 2014). On the other hand, forensic psychologists who administer these assessments associated with determining legal proceeding must also place emphasis on adhering to the Code of Ethics. This could mean the psychologist needs to place emphasis on several areas when determining the adequate outcome. Legally, they have policies, questions, and parameters that the psychologist must adhere to but there is also the possibility of professional biases and errors.
"Jails and prisons hold three times as many mentally ill people as mental health hospitals" (“Mentally Ill Prisoners”). This horrifying statistic directly reflects the mistreatment and inequity faced by the mentally ill in society, and speaks on behalf of the “356,000 inmates with serious mental illness in jails and state prisons” in the United States (How Many Individuals). Mentally ill inmates are not only often unfairly sentenced for non-violent crimes, but they are commonly mistreated by prison staff, deprived of proper treatment for their illnesses, and ultimately their stay only worsens their condition, leading to their speedy return to the system upon the expiration of their sentences. The sheer number of people with mental illnesses
Former U.S president Ronald Reagan was shot by a man named John Hinckley in the year 1981. The president along with many of his entourage survived the shooting despite the heavy infliction of internal and external injuries. The Hinckley case is a classic example of the 'not guilty by reason of insanity' case (NGRI). The criminal justice system under which all men and women are tried holds a concept called mens rea, a Latin phrase that means "state of mind". According to this concept, Hinckley committed his crime oblivious of the wrongfulness of his action. A mentally challenged person, including one with mental retardation, who cannot distinguish between right and wrong is protected and exempted by the court
In criminal cases where an insanity defense is used, the defense must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was not responsible for his or her actions during a mental health breakdown. There are two forms of an insanity defense, cognitive and volitional. In order for an individual to meet the requirements for cognitive insanity it must be proven that the defendant had to be so impaired by a mental disease at the time of the act that they did not know the nature of what they were doing. If they are fully aware of their actions, one must prove that they didn’t know what they were doing was wrong. Volitional insanity, also known as irresistible impulse, states that the defendant is able to differentiate between right or wrong at the time, but suffered from a mental disease that made them unable to control themselves. Volitional insanity is common in crimes of vengeance, where very few states allow the use of this defense. The insanity defense should not be confused with incompetency. In incompetency cases, the individual is not able to understand the nature and consequences of the case, nor adequately able to help an attorney with his or her defense. The insanity defense reflects the approach that an individual who can’t acknowledge the consequences of their actions should not be punished for the crime. In most jurisdictions a professional is bought in to determine if the defendant was not able to differentiate between right or wrong at the time of the