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Mental Illness In Prison Essay

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In 1981, John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate United States President Ronald Reagan to impress actress Jodie Foster. To the public’s dismay, John Hinckley Jr. was found not guilty by reason of insanity. This is perhaps one the most infamous and controversial cases regarding the insanity defense. Historically, society’s stigma surrounding mental disorders has affected millions of lives. Society fails to realize the reality of the mentally ill, believing a series of myths passed throughout the centuries. For example, out of the millions who suffer from mental disease, only a small portion can become violent. This violence is usually a factor of a psychotic episode caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Many neglect the need for an…show more content…
According to the Human Rights Watch report, "unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force" is used prisons to control inmates with who suffer from psychotic episodes. The callous force used in prisons to control the mentally ill is continuously ignored with many ignorantly believe that a mental illness is a personality flaw. These people do not realize that these episodes are cause by a serious chemical imbalance in the brain. Clearly, prison is no place for the mentally ill because it is not treatment, “Vera Institute of Justice found… 2 million people are incarcerated each year with mental illness and more than 80% do not receive mental health treatment” (NAMI 1). To imprison a citizen who does not have the capacity to understand reality and neglect them proper treatment, would be cruel and unusual punishment. Admittedly, there is no specific person who can easily define what is cruel and unusual punishment. The eight amendment of the Constitution does not specifically define cruel and unusual punishment. The law is left for interpretation and “ is reason, free from passion” (Aristotle). Some may reason that a crime is a crime, regardless of the circumstances. This is true, for example, the
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