Insanity Defense

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"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, and the usefulness of such a defense. The insanity defense is also seen as a legal loophole and a waste of money. Due to this, the insanity defense as a whole should be abolished in order to prevent the freed criminal from performing the same crime that put him on trial in the first place. As stated above, one of the main problems concerning the insanity defense is being able to detect whether or not the criminal is truly insane. Over the years the insanity test has evolved from a primitive version to a more detailed version. "…The insanity defense was based on the rule established in the M'Naghten case which had been handed down the by British House of Lords in 1843. The Lords ruled, "It must be clearly proved that, at the time of the committing of the act, the party accused was labouring under such a defect of reason, from disease of the mind, as not to know the nature and quality of the act he was doing; or if he did know it, that he did not know he was doing what was wrong." And t... ... middle of paper ... ...te what exactly was going on in the mind of the criminal when they were performing their crime to determine whether they could distinguish right from wrong or whether they were acting on impulse or not. Esteemed psychologists and psychiatrists can't even define most of the individual terms used to define these rules. How would a jury comprised of common everyday people be able to make their decision after sitting in a courtroom listening to each side give persuading facts about how they are correct? Terms like insanity and mental illness have no scientific meaning, causing the relationship between insanity, mental illness and criminal law to be uncertain. As uncertain as the relationship between mental illness and criminal behavior. The insanity defense is impractical and ultimately allows harmful criminals back on the streets, therefore it should be abolished.

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