The insanity plea is a poor excuse for serious lawbreakers, and should have no bearing in the sentencing of criminals. All criminal cases today have three ways in which a defendant can plea. Guilty, not guilty, or Insanity.
The word insane is a legal term. 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.)
· Psychiatrist testimony should be limited to such areas of competence as a defendant's motivation or mental state.
· Persons judged "not guilty by reason of insanity should not be released without careful consideration by state or federal authorities. It also stated that psychiatrist were unable to predict the "dangerousness" of such persons. (APA)
The American Psychiatric Association issued a position in defense of the insanity plea in criminal trails. ...
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...an avoid the punishment that fits their crimes.
Bard, Jennifer S; Unjust Rules for Insanity, The New York Times. 13 March
Gado, Mark: The insanity Defense,
www.crimelibrary.com/criminology/insanity/4.htm, ( May 2001).
Grinfeld, Micheal, Executing the Mentally Ill: Who is really Insane?,
Psychiatric Times , May 1998, Vol XV , Issue 5
Knowles, Byran: Is the insanity plea allowing criminals to avoid justice?
Online source, 3 May 2000
Reid, William, The insanity defense: Bad or Mad or Both?, Journal of
Psychiatry ,May 2000.
The American Psychiatric Association, Law: Psychiatrists Review Insanity
Plea, 11 February 1983.
Primal Fear, Dir. Gregory Hobblit, Perf. Richard Gere, Edward Nourton,
John Mahoney, Alfre Woodlard. Paramount Pictures, 1996
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