Today, the insanity defense has become a major issue within the legal system. If the defendant is clearly out of touch with reality, the police and district attorney ordinarily agree to bypass the trial and let the defendant enter a mental hospital. On the other hand, if the defendant has no serious signs of mental illness, the defense attorneys will not attempt an insanity defense. This is because they know that juries are reluctant to accept it. Basically, the only way for a lawyer to prove his client’s insanity is to try to project what his client was thinking (or not thinking) at the time that the crime was committed.
The insanity defense would require both a mental disease and a relationship between the illness and the criminal behavior, neither of which could be scientifically proven. Of the criminals both acquitted and convicted using the insanity defense, a good number have shown conclusive evidence of recidivism. Many dangerous persons are allowed to return to the streets and many non-dangerous persons are forced into facilities due to an insanity plea adding further confusion and injustice within both the legal and medical systems. The insanity defense is impossible to maintain on the foundation of rules such as the M'Naghten Rule, and the relationship between law and psychiatry must be reinstated on a more scientific level, based on the neurological work now going on in the brain sciences.
The jury ruled him “not guilty by reason of insanity”. The reason for the verdict was M’Naughten... ... middle of paper ... ...eople that went to jail because of the confusion with the insanity defense and the law has become unfavorable towards the insanity defense. As the New York Times says,” Congress barred federal courts from finding defendants legally insane “merely” because they were too mentally ill to have avoided committing the crime.” This means that mentally unstable people are going to jail untreated. The insanity defense has come to questioning our morals. When someone is mentally unstable, do they deserve to be endure the sometimes harsh punishments of our law or should they be treated for their illness in a psychiatric hospital?
Many believe that the Insanity Plea is a simple way to get a high-stakes criminal off the hook, though many would also disagree and say that the Insanity Plea is a justifiable resolution to court cases. To define the actual term, “Insanity Plea”, the authors Zachary Torry and Stephen Billick state that, “The Insanity Defense of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity is the defense used by some mentally disordered defendants who do not have the capacity for understanding right and wrong at the time of their criminal act.” (Torry and Billick)In another article, Neuroscience, Ethics and Legal Responsibility: The Problem of the Insanity Defense, the author Stephen Smith, gives another excellent definition, he says, The insanity defense presents many difficult questions for the legal system. It attracts attention beyond its practical significance (it is seldom used successfully) because it goes to the heart of the concept of legal responsibility. ‘‘Not guilty by reason of insanity’’ generally requires that as a result of mental illness the defendant was unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time of the crime. The many difficult and complex questions presented by the insanity defense have led some in the legal community to hope that neuroscience might help resolve some of these problems, but that hope is not likely to be realized.
The media generally portrays the prototypical serial killer through the lens of two extremes. They can either have an incapacitating mental illness or be brilliant, but severely troubled, geniuses. Yet, neither of these two stereotypes are accurate, as serial killers generally display signs of psychopathy, which is not considered a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association. Despite the erroneousness of Hollywood’s movies and television shows, many psychologists and lawmakers are still considering the degree to which psychopaths can be considered responsible for their actions. In “Psychopathy and Culpability: How Responsible Is the Psychopath for Criminal Wrongdoing?” researchers Adam R. Fox, Trevor H. Kvaran, and Reid Griffith Fontaine attempt to draw conclusions from evidence on whether or not psychopaths meet the criteria for full criminal responsibility.
The issue of executing mentally ill criminals has been widely debated among the public. They debate on whether it is right or wrong to execute a person who does not possess the capacity to think correctly. The mental illness is an ailment that affects the way a person thinks, feels, behaves and relates to others. The disease is caused by a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors not a personal weakness or a character flaw. A study by the Death Penalty Information Center found that “executing the insane is unconstitutional; however, if an inmate's mental competency has been restored, he or she can then be executed (deathpenalty).” The time has come for us to accept the fact that executing mentally ill offenders is not beneficial to society for many reasons.
The infamous Jeffrey Dahmer and Hannibal Lector have been looked at multiple times and no one can get an exact reason as for why they ever committed such insane crimes. Although one is a fictional character and the other is real the common characteristic they share is a psychopathic personality. Most doctors can agree that psychopathy is a mental illness opposed to a choice of character unlike other criminals. They all tend to agree on that specific issue, researchers and doctors are unaware of proper treatments or if psychopathy is treatable. Many doctors will describe psychopaths as manipulative, with callous emotions and lack of empathy for anybody (Kerns).
In states Montana, Idaho, and Utah, does not consent for the defendant to plea an insanity defense. The defendants must be capable to stand trial, but they do have the right to present evidence of a mental disease as evidence that they did not have the required intent ("A Crime Of Insanity - Insanity On Trial | FRONTLINE | PBS", n.d.). The state of Georgia uses a reformed style of the M'Naghten Rule ("The Insanity Defense Among the States - FindLaw", n.d.). Daniel M’Naghten was an Eng... ... middle of paper ... ...2011). Wrightsman's psychology and the legal system.
Because research has identified many different mental illnesses of varying severities, it is now too simplistic to describe a severely mentally ill person merely as insane. The federal law states that insanity is a fair defense if " at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendants as a result of sever mental disease or defect was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of the wrongfulness of his acts"(Knowles). The American Psychiatric Association recommends that · Insanity acquittals should be reserved for defendants diagnose as "psychotic", rather than those with a less serious "antisocial personality disorder"(The APA defined a psychotic as someone so out of touch with reality he was "unable to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct.") · Defendants with antisocial personality disorders should be held "accountable for their behavior. "(Such as a person, according to the APA, understood his actions but might be unconcerned about their consequences.)
However the insanity plea as been around for many years, and is not used in every court case, and there is long determination to prove that the person does have a mental illness, and to prove that its is not gear to get a harsher term. In the eyes of the law, a defendant is legally insane if he or she is unable, because of a mental problem, to form a mens rea, a Latin term meaning a guilty mind.# Since the law only punishes people who are mentally responsible for their actions, most states allow juries to find a defendant not guilty if he or she was insane at the time a crime was committed. The insanity defense, states that at the time of the crime the defendant could not decide between right or wrong or could not keep from acting on their impulse, due to mental illness. Each state has its own definition of insanity, but most states fol... ... middle of paper ... ...ned that they are not in danger of hurting themselves or others. Bibliography: Bibliography Dolan, Edward Jr, The Insanity Plea, New York, Library of Congress in Publication Data, 1984 Fingarette, Herbert The Meaning of Criminal Insanity, California, University of California Pres Ltd, 1972 Gerber, Rudolph J , The Insanity Defense, New York, Associated Press Inc, 1984 Goldstein, Abraham S, The Insanity Plea, New Haven, Yale University, 1967 Latzer, Barry, Death Penalty Cases, Boston, Library in Congress In Publications, 1998 Lewis, Dorothy, M.D., Guilty by Reason of Insanity, New York, The Ballantine Publishing Group, 1998 Szasz, Thomas S., M.D., Psychiatric Justice, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1965 Winslade, William J, Ph.D, and Judith Wilson Ross, The Insanity Plea: The Users & Abusers of the Insanity Defense, New York