Ill or Evil: The Insanity Defense

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Insanity is one of those words used today that gets thrown around a lot. Our society has become so numb to it because we were it on a regular basis. Albert Einstein describes insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Albert Einstein may have been a genius, but in this case he is wrong. There are people in this world who are mentally insane and they can’t help themselves. On rare occasions people like this become killers. In the legal system we have a defense an accused murderer can use to show they were not in their right mind when the act occurred. This is the insanity defense. This happens in 1% of criminal trials in the United States (US). A perfect example of a case that used the insanity defense was Andrea Yates v The State of Texas.
Andrea Yates’ life started out completely normal. She graduated number one in her high school class, became a registered nurse for the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, and met the love of her life and got married. Her life sounds as normal as anyone’s does. Four months after she gave birth to her fourth child, something changed. She tried her first suicide attempt by swallowing 40-50 sleeping pills. She was hospitalized to a psychiatric facility and diagnosed with major depressive disorder. Her doctor’s attempt to medicate her was unsuccessful. She was discharged due to insurance restrictions and according to Charles Patrick Ewing, a forensic psychologist and attorney who wrote the book Insanity, Murder, Madness, and the Law “her family contracted to keep a close eye on the patient.” Several months following her hospitalization, her mental health declined. She lost 13 pounds, had no energy, slept all day, and had memory and conce...

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...n from themselves. This is not a luxury that prison does not offer. These people need to be punished for their crimes, but they also need to be helped.

Works Cited

Ewing, Charles Patrick. Insanity : Murder, Madness, And The Law / Charles Patrick Ewing. n.p.: New York : Oxford University Press, 2008., 2008. OCC Library Catalog. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

Simon, Rita James. The Jury and the Defense of Insanity. Boston: Little Brown, 1967. Print. OCC Library Catalog. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

Erickson, Patricia E., and Steven K. Erickson. Crime, Punishment, And Mental Illness : Law And The Behavioral Sciences In Conflict / Patricia E. Erickson, Steven K. Erickson. n.p.: New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, c2008., 2008. OCC Library Catalog. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.

Garner, Bryan A. Black's Legal Dictionary. 7th Ed. St. Paul, Minnesota : West Publishing , 2009. Print.
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