Should Mental Illness Be Taken Into Account in Determining Punishment?

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The penal system has been no help in alleviating the stigma attached to mental illness, routinely and historically treating mentally unstable inmates with just the same harsh approach as their criminally insane counterparts. Indeed, the distinction between these two populations is significant; however, authorities have long been reluctant to entertain such a concept. Similar to the treatment availed to them in institutions, mentally ill inmates have a history of being shackled, beaten and deprived of the most basic human needs. One might readily argue how state and federal penitentiaries exist for one reason and one reason only: to lock up the criminal and throw away the key. The conspicuous absence of rehabilitation programs speaks to…show more content…
Clearly, the connection one might make between free will and behavior based upon Hume's conjecture leads one to believe that people are much more likely to act out in such a manner that is motivated only by their personal desire to do so, rather than depending upon automatic reaction or stimulation. "The skeptic, therefore, had better keep within his proper sphere, and display those philosophical objections, which arise from more profound researches" (Hume PG).
Society has not been very successful in addressing its mental illness problem; one only has to witness the nation's tremendous homeless population, obtain criminal justice statistics and examine the number of people currently taking psycho tropic medication in order to underscore the prevalence of mental illness. Understanding the origins of mental health is paramount to gaining further understanding of how to address punishment issues directly associated with mental illness, which requires the examination of myriad cultural and genetic elements that have been suspect in the study of human behavior.
Recognition and treatment of mental illness has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis over the past three centuries, with the very definition of "insanity" having encountered a most significant evolution. What was sane and what was normal was completely left

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