As a whole, literature on the topic of mental illness in our country and specifically in our criminal justice system had a reoccurring theme. There are millions of individuals who suffer from mental illness but are improperly being handled through the criminal justice system. These individuals are deemed criminal just by their acts and their mental health state is not overly examine. Jails and prisons are being overcrowded. State prisons and jails are overpopulated anywhere from 15 to 32% (Spending Money in All the Wrong Places: Jails & Prisons).
Mental health and the criminal justice system have long been intertwined. Analyzing and understanding the links between these two subjects demands for a person to go in to depth in the fields of criminology, sociology, psychology, and psychiatry, because there are many points of view on whether or not a person’s criminal behavior is due to their mental health. Some believe that an unstable mental state of mind can highly influence a person’s decision of committing criminal actions. Others believe that mental health and crime are not related and that linking them together is a form of discrimination because it insinuates that those in our society that suffer from poor mental health are most likely to become a criminal due to their
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
In “The Brain on Trial” David Eagleman (2011) informs us about an incident where a man shot himself as well as other people around him. He writes the suicide note that the man left and he talks about the man requesting an autopsy on himself. When doing the autopsy they discover a tumor on his brain. He talks about the symptoms that come with the tumor and how the man was right about there being something wrong with brain. Eagleman says that these situations aren’t uncommon. He then starts to talk about another man named Alex who had a thing for child pornography. They then discovered a tumor in his brain and when removed he was back to normals and didn’t have any urges for child pornography until the tumor grew back. He talks about other problems
Throughout the years, the United States criminal justice system has been constantly incarcerating individuals who endure from a severe mental illness. People who suffer from serious mental illness are doubtlessly to be discovered in prison. There is a significant amount of mentally ill offenders that are placed in the state and federal institutions. The mentally ill are overpopulating the prisons. The criminal justice system is a deficiency for those who can profit more from the help of mental health treatment center or psychiatric hospital by sending individuals to correctional facilities or prisons. Today’s jails and prisons are being labeled as the new mental health hospitals for the mentally ill offenders. Commonly in today’s society, it generally takes other individuals who are willing to educate and support the mentally ill person into becoming successful in life.
An unfortunate reality in today’s society is the gross overrepresentation of persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system. According to Teplin (1984), persons with mental illness have been found to be almost twice as likely as individuals without any known mental illness to be arrested for their behavior in similar situations. Furthermore, several other studies have even shown that roughly half of all persons with a mental illness have been arrested at least once in their lifetime (Solomon & Draine, 1995; Walsh & Bricourt, 2003). Although these statistics seem to further support the common belief among many citizens that mentally ill persons are dangerous criminals, research indicates that the mentally ill are more often arrested for nonviolent minor charges (Cuellar, Snowden, & Ewing, 2007). Not surprisingly, a considerable portion of individuals within the criminal justice population have a diagnosable mental illness. According to Ditton (1999), 7% of federal inmates, 16% of state inmates, and 16% of jail inmates have a mental illness. These percentages may be inflated because persons with mental illness tend to spend longer periods of time in custody than those without a mental illness. Perhaps the greatest indication of the brokenness of the system is the fact that there are more mentally ill persons in jails and prisons today than in public psychiatric hospitals (Lamb& Bachrach, 2001). In fact, according to the
The criminalization hypothesis implies that within the criminal justice system those who suffer from a serious mental illness are over represented because they are arrested and committed for actions caused by their untreated mental illness (Litschge &Vaughn, 2009). This implies that the environmental obstacles faced by the mentally ill directly lead to their arrest.
One of the most controversial issues regarding the mentally ill and the prison system is the medical treatment received. According to the film, “16% of the prison population in the state of Ohio, which reflects a national average, are persons who have been diagnosed with mental illness.” Prisons began as an institution designed to rehabilitate, however, a vast majority of prisons throughout the country do not provide adequate medical care for their mentally ill inmates. However, the prisons that do possess adequate health care are most likely the first instance in which the inmates with mental illness have received any sort of treatment in their entire life. People with chronic mental illness need constant supervision which they cannot get outside of prison. Although inmates does not receive the most extensive treatment, the treatment they do receive is well beyond the treatment they would have received had they stayed out of the criminal justice system.
Over the past thirty years, there has been a 500% increase in the U.S incarceration rate. (The Sentencing project, 2014) Advances in medicine, such as the discovery of psychoactive drugs, led to the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients from psychiatric hospitals. With a long record of horrific abuse,
The brain can be affected by damage and cause behavior to be expressed differently in every person. Events such as a car crash or childhood abuse can affect brain development and function. Damage to certain areas of the brain can have a variety of effects. The hippocampus controls emotions and is associated with memory, and the frontal lobe is a brain cortex that controls motor functions, problem solving, memory, language, judgments, social and sexual behavior and impulse. When the frontal lobe or hippocampus is affected, a person’s emotion can be out of their control. In criminal cases, brain damage can affect the sentencing of a violent criminal, but to what extent should these abnormalities play a role in their conviction? Much research has been conducted in order to determine the effect that brain abnormalities should have on the conviction of violent criminals. A psychiatrist at New York University, Dr. Lewis, has conducted a study on death-row inmates, how their brains work and what affect the damage had on their conviction. By doing so Dr. Lewis paved the way for other researchers, such as Kent Kiehl and Jonathan H. Pincus to study the brains of violent criminals looking for a answer as to whether or not these criminals should be incarcerated. Over time research has been conducted focusing on mental illnesses and brain damage as the cause of violent acts instead of it being just premeditated murder. Many believe brain damage or mental illness should have no affect on
The United States formed the principle of “Innocent until proven guilty”. Sometimes the perpetrator knows that they’re guilty, but they’re found not guilty. Kenneth Parks, a twenty-three-year-old man who “… Broke in, stabbed his mother… drove himself to the police station… said ‘I think I may have killed some people’” (Quoted in Eagleman 437). Parks was a man who committed murder and was found not guilty. Various parties knew that Parks committed the murder, but motive was the reason he was found not guilty. Controversy around Parks’ adjudication just added to existing debates about psychological crimes. Who did the crime, the culprit or his/her biological factors? Should the culprit get rehabilitation
Overall, this article describes numerous cases of people’s personality and behavior being drastically affected by various forms of brain damage, particularly to the frontal lobe. This is consistent with what we have learned about Phineas Gage and his dramatically changed personality. As such, the author, David Eagleman, concludes that humans are not really “free” and that we are all products of our brains’ physical state, meaning that the notion of all humans being equal in their decisions is fundamentally flawed. He therefore proposes modifying the criminal justice system so that sentencing is customized more for the particular offender, taking into account the functionality of the criminal’s brain,
It is very rare these days to turn on the news and not hear about a crime or a murder. Crime is a common occurrence yet many times it is difficult to understand how someone could bring themselves to do these things. It does seem to make any sense why a young handsome man from a good family would want to kill someone and then be able to go through with it. This leads one to wonder if the brains of people who behave in socially unacceptable ways are different from everyone else's brains. There is a substantial amount of evidence that suggests some criminals do have differences in their brains that most likely contribute to their behavior. Many of these individuals have Antisocial Personality Disorder and
Behavioral neuroscience or biological psychology employs the principles of brain pathology to the study of human behavior through genetic, physiological, and developmental operations, as well as, the brain’s capacity to change with experience. Since the second world war, crime was largely attributed to mostly economic, political, and social factors, along with what psychologists termed at the time, the “weak character” of mental disturbance, and brain biology was rarely considered. However, new advances in neuroscience and technology have allowed a number of studies that link brain development, impairment, and injury to criminal violence. This emerging field of psychology explores the brain at a microscopic level, focusing studies on the roles that the brain’s neurons, circuitry, neurotransmitters, and basic biological processes play in defining and molding all human behavior.
Roy Blunt, American politician, once said, “People with mental health problems are almost never dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators. At the same time, mental illness has been the common denominator in one act of mass violence after another.” There is a misconception that mental disorders such as dissociative identity disorder and schizophrenia are the same. Today’s society often see all mental disorders as one, however, they are very much different. If one was to say someone with multiple personalities is the same as someone who has hallucinations and/or has delusions, they are incorrect, which is why in specific cases such as schizophrenia, the legal term “not guilty due to mental disorder” should be valid.