Insanity Defense

(For your paper – write on this, or any other issues related to our treatment of the mentally ill such as asylums or over-medication)

In 1981 failed musician John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan firing 6 shots from a pistol towards Reagan as he left a rally. Several in the presidential entourage were hit, including Reagan, though he would recover and no one was killed. In the trial a year later – Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Evidence had come out that Hinckley had been obsessed with actress Jodie Foster, and had attempted the assassination to get her attention. He also had a history of taking anti-depressants.

Americans were furious with the “not guilty by reason of insanity” verdict. In an ABC News poll 83% of Americans thought “justice was not done” in the case and there was an outpouring of anger against the insanity defense. Legislation was passed to restrict use of the insanity defense. Read more, including interesting primary sources on this trial: http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hinckley/hinckleyaccount.html (Use two other articles if you are writing a paper.)

Today the insanity defense is used rarely – only in 1-2% of felony cases, and it is only successful 25% of the time. But should it be used at all? Are there evil people getting away with murder? Or are we inappropriately punishing the mentally ill?

46 Comments »

  1. Moneymaddness Said,

    May 11, 2011@ 4:40 pm      

    I believe that the insanity defense should still be intact. The definition of legal insanity is that a person “did not know right from wrong”; if someone did not know that the crime committed was immortal then how would the court charge the person? In order to work around this, the suspected criminal would have to undergo a full psychological exam and then it would clear weather this person is genuinely insane or not. If we abolish the insanity defense, we would be putting people would need treatment to help cope with their illness. It only takes one person to commit a deviant act and it would be a disaster if that person continued to commit crimes after being released from jail. The justice system should have services available for those who have lost some of their marbles, it would a win-win situation for everyone; the suspect gets the treatment they need and people would not get hurt. In the end, even if there is only a small minority of pleas of insanity, there are still some people who would not benefit from the “justice” served to them.

  2. Schnoodle12 Said,

    May 12, 2011@ 10:27 pm      

    I believe that it is necessary to keep the insanity defense in the United States judicial system. Though the majority of people who commit crimes are, in fact, “sane” by court standards, it is possible to have cases where the criminal was truly suffering from a mental disability. In order to insure that a person is truthfully making an insanity plea, it is vital to go through medical records and conduct intense psychological testing of the suspected criminal. However, I strongly feel that the insanity defense should only be used when a suspect is suffering from an actual disease. For example, if a person with schizophrenia commits a murder, it is almost always likely that the act of rage had something to do with the altered mental state. However, I do not believe that temporary mood swings, random fits of rage or even PMS qualify for the usage of the insanity defense. Whether or not the insanity defense is justified is absolutely dependent on the severity of the so-called illness and whether or not the illness had affect on the person while participating in the crime.

    I totally agree with Moneymaddness. It does no use to the criminal who is proven truthful in an insanity defense to just sit in jail. I feel like it would make a lot more of a difference in society if the criminal got the help that they needed while in confinement of a rehabilitation center rather than just sit in jail.

  3. hellothere,theangelfrommynightmares. Said,

    May 13, 2011@ 11:25 am      

    The insanity plea should only be used if the person can be proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, by professional analysts and doctors, to have the mind-altering disease or disorder that he/she claims caused them to commit their crime. If the person has moments where they are perfectly sane and can function normally, that should be taken into account and the insanity plea should not have as much weight in the court’s decision. If anything, we would be saving the mentally ill from the harsher treatments of prisons if we let them plead insanity. I think that in order to prevent the guilty from getting away with murder, figuratively or literally, more tests should be done to prove the accused guilty or otherwise.

  4. grandma's cookies Said,

    May 14, 2011@ 4:41 pm      

    Not guilty by reason of insanity should still be used. There are those people out there who are truly insane and do not understand that what they are doing is wrong. During these instances, the person should go through certain testing to make sure they are clinically insane. I agree with Schnoodle12 in that they should go to a rehabilitation center and get help, rather than sitting in jail, if they commit a minor act. I think that in murder cases it should not be used, because sane or not, the person killed another person and they should suffer the consequences. You would not want a killer to come to court and then be released into the public. Seeing as only a small percentage of cases actually succeed, it does not harm much if you are opposing it. I see it as a fair chance for the mentally unstable and it should be kept.

  5. Mary Queen of Scots Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 10:46 am      

    I believe we should keep the insanity defense as a part of our legal system. If a person is seriously mentally ill then that’s why they committed the crime. If they were sane maybe they wouldn’t have done it. So it makes sense to have that plea and then be able to be sent to a psychiatric ward to get that mental illness taken care of. It’s unfortunate that it might take committing a crime to get a person the help they need but they do need it regardless. I agree with Grandma’s Cookies when they said that the insanity plea shouldn’t be used in murder trials. Murder is a huge deal and a criminal shouldn’t just receive a “get out of jail free” card because they have a mental illness. If only a small percentage of cases use this defense it’s not doing too much harm is it? It’s a fair way for the mentally unstable to get the help they need and to receive a punishment that’s fair for them.

  6. StayChill Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 1:07 pm      

    I believe that being mentally ill is a reality, and does truly exist. However, using it as an excuse for comitting murder or other serious crimes is unethical and quite ignorant. I do not care if you are a werewolf, having no control over your actions, you still must pay the price. What will happen, is that people will fake insanity, to escape imprisonment, evading the punishment of their crime because they’re “crazy.” It is a crazy notion to even entertain something of this sort, they are guilty, just as guilty as intoxicated people who have no control. I fundamentally disagree with all previous posters.

  7. Padfoot Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 1:13 pm      

    I believe that the insanity defense should be removed from our legal system. Regardless of whether or not a local store robber is classified as insane or not, a crime is a crime and a punishment should always be in order. I wouldn’t want the man who murdered my father to be let free just because he tells the courts that he’s nuts. I disagree with MoneyyMadness when he/she says that it would be a win-win situation to get the insane clinical help. It’s not a win situation for the person who was the victim of the crime. There should always be a punishment for a crime no matter what.

  8. thatguy42 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 1:14 pm      

    I don’t know how thorough the tests for insanity in a court room are, but I will side with the insanity defense only if there is absolutely no doubt that the person charged is completely insane. I say that because those who are actually insane honestly don’t know any better which is why they have the insanity defense. If someone just says they are insane and there is not enough reasonable evidence to prove it, then almost anyone can use the defense and I would be against it. But even if someone is found to be insane and gets the defense, they shouldn’t get off the hook as if nothing happened. They should rehabilitated or something else to help them learn their from their mistakes and to make sure nothing like that ever happens again.
    Mary Queen of Scots is right because those who are truly insane need the insanity defense since there is no other reason why they committed the crime in the first place except for being insane.

  9. karenann Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 1:20 pm      

    The use of pleaing insanity should still be kept in effect. This is true because there are a handful of cases in the US who have legitimate insane people. Although, it should be kept in effect there should be extensive interviewing and background checks before letting them off the hook. I agree with grandmas cookies in that they should be sent to a psychiatric hospital if they are deemed insane.

  10. Luke Skywalker Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 2:34 pm      

    The insanity plea should be removed from the legal system. It only gives people an excuse to use for their wrongful actions. Although the plea is not used very often and is not always successful some people are still getting away with crimes. This is comparable to drunk driving. When someone is drunk they are not aware that what they are doing wrong, they believe they are perfectly fine. But when they get in car and hit another car and kill someone we do not let them get away with it because they did not know what they are doing, we charge them with murder. We should not let those that claim to be insane get away with things like murder just because they are not aware that what they are doing is wrong. I agree with Padfoot, a crime should be punished, not matter of the circumstances.

  11. It's Over 9000! Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 3:04 pm      

    Insanity defense should be kept. If only a small amount of people plea this and of that less are actually successful then that means most are because the person is actually insane and not just stating that to get away with murder. I don’t feel that it should protect someone who momentarily goes insane or lose control but it needs to be kept for the people who have had mental disabilities all their life because they can’t comprehend why their actions were wrong. These people should not get off completely free, they should be given treatment to help them, watched carefully and instead of going to jail maybe be put into a mental ward or asylum.

    I agree with Moneymaddness, they can’t comprehend between what is right and what is wrong so it not their fault and they need help.

  12. Reggie Rocket Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 5:27 pm      

    I believe that the insanity defense should remain as it is. It isn’t often used and when it is used its not often successful. People that claim to be insane should be fully examined..if they are insane then the obviously need help, and if not then they are guilty.

    I agree with moneymaddness in the sense that those who truly do not know right from wrong should not be punished-but helped.

  13. go4dreams Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 6:46 pm      

    I don’t agree with the court’s decision about not guilty for reasons of insanity because regardless, everyone knows the difference between right and wrong, whether or not they choose to listen to that part is based on their minds. I agree with Padfoot, if someone who was not mentally stable committed a crime, then they need to have some sort of punishment. They are not innocent, they are guilty. I think that a full evaluation should be done in order to be sure that the mind is not stable because it is possible to fake a mental illness.

  14. Habibime Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 7:09 pm      

    I do believe that some people are mentally ill and cannot control some of their impulses, doesn’t mean they should get away with a crime though. People like that need psychiatric help or more, in my belief though you have to be mentally ill in order to kill somebody or even attempt murder. But in other cases I do think some people are just evil because of the nature they were brought up in which also leads to making a person mentally insane or unfit to our society’s standards. I don’t though this is a tough topic to choose either side, but I would say I’m more on keeping the insanity defense, because punishing a person who is mentally ill by sending the to prison isn’t going to help them or anyone else. But prescribing them the necessary medicine, and providing them with psychiatric help will improve them.

    I agree with what Reggie rocket said about how people should be analyzed on whether they are truly insane or not, because I believe you can’t just fake insanity.

  15. TK Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 7:39 pm      

    I don’t think many people understand how many mentally ill people there are around the world. A lot of people can hide it or even unfortunately fake being insane. Sometimes the person doesn’t even know it or its love ones until something dramatics happens. Depression can lead to anything and these people need to be noticed and get help. These people are dangerous, but it really isn’t their fault we should really pay more attention to those who are naturally evil. I agree with Hibibime about that we shouldn’t punish the mentally ill, but we should help them and provide them with the right medicine .

  16. Mudkip Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 7:44 pm      

    Those found not guilty by reasons of insanity are not simply let go. They are sentenced to go under intense therapy and are placed in a mental institution. For this reason, the charge should remain intact. In order for this to be the case, it must first be proven and solidified as the conclusion.

    Grandma’s cookies, as above stated the case for those declared insane is to be sent to a psychiatric facility where they may be held permanently or until considered cured, presumably depending on the severity of their crime.

  17. coachgirl21 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 7:58 pm      

    People who are mentally ill are not simply let to do as they please. They are sent for intense care and institution. I believe these people need help and should get it. Also they should be put on medication and kept in therapy for years. Then they should be let go and have someone monitoring them and there behavior.

    Reggie rocket is right. It must be absolutely certain the person is insane. It is too easy for people to get away with these crimes.

  18. Im hungry Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:01 pm      

    A verdict of innocence by reason of insanity does not mean the person can go home after the court ruling. In most states, people are forced to commit to a metal hospital. They cannot leave the hospital until it is clear that the patient is no longer a threat. The use of the insanity plea should not be removed from the legal system. However, there should thorough testing for insanity. People who are insane need help, and sometimes it takes a criminal offense to get that help. Like I said, a full examination of the person should be used to make sure the person is insane, and then the person should be kept in a hospital for a good amount of time.

    I agree with Money Madness. Jail is no place for an insane person. That doesn’t help them at all. They need help, and jail would not be any help at all.

  19. Aunt Jemima Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:03 pm      

    I do believe reason of insanity should no longer be intact. First off, every human being no matter what there on or what there doing know exactly what there doing. No matter how they try to play it, deny it, or blame it on other things they know exactly what there doing. If they were smart enough to get the gun, find the person, and pull the trigger then there smart enough to know the punishment.

    Luke Skywalker: I agree it is used in the wrong way and helps people get away with there crimes.

  20. Sirius_Black Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:15 pm      

    I think that the insanity defense should remain the way it is today. I don’t believe that murderers are getting away with anything because in today’s society, there is more of an investigation into who should really be using the insanity defense. The defense can be used by some people who aren’t really insane but that is true about almost anything. So many people think that when you plead guilty by reason of insanity, they can just go home and live a normal life again when that’s not true. Most have to stay in mental hospitals until they won’t hurt anyone else. After that is determined I think they should be transfered to a prison to have some other punishment.

    I agree with ReggieRocket, people who are insane need help first to discover what is right and wrong.

  21. flapjackwilly Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:16 pm      

    Insane people should not be treated any differently in court cases. Cases should be handled strictly on a guilty not guilty base. If the defendant is found guilty he/she should receive the sentence regardless of any mental illness. The basis on which the insanity clause is actually very humorous when you think about it. Of course the defendant is insane THEY KILLED SOMEONE. People that are perfectly fine in the head do not consider murder as an option to accomplish anything. Like killing someone isn’t enough evidence that the person has mental disabilities. I’m hungry, I would rather go to a mental hospital for a short amount of time then go to a state prison. Justice is not served.

  22. stoopkid Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:16 pm      

    I believe that the insanity defense should no longer be intact. Committing a crime is wrong, no matter who does it. I dont think a person could r*pe or kill a person without having something wrong in their head, it’s just not normal behavior. But even if someone is insane, I think they should get the same type of punishment as a ‘sane’ person would. If it someone who is insane is punished for a crime, they should also get assistance for their condition. Possibly therapy or medicine could be offered to them at the jail. It’s not wrong for a criminal to be diagnosed as insane, but that shouldn’t get them out of the normal punishment.

    I agree with Luke Skywalker that we should not use the insanity defense just because the person claims they didn’t know the difference between right and wrong.

  23. Red Sea Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:18 pm      

    We are humans and we tend to obsess over things. We obsess over the nature of how out coffee is made, how our lawns are mowed, and even the whiteness of our teeth. But weather the distance in the human sub conscious between obsession and insanity is up for debate. The only other thing that we sometimes do is in moments of rage we lash out and don’t always think rationally. But that is not insanity, everyone has problems and get mad that doesn’t mean that everyone commits murder. I think that for some people insanity pleas are a real defense, for some that would just like to think that a fit of rage justifies them to murder I don’t know. I think that no matter what we do people are going to twist the law.
    Aunt Jemima, While your argument is compelling your forgetting that there are menatly unstable people in the world.

  24. Monkey Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:35 pm      

    The insanity defense should NEVER be used. if someone is insane, they should be put away getting help- not being allowed on the streets. It’s crazy that if you’re insane, you don’t get put in jail, and there is rare punishments. “Insane” people, if they even really are, should have some sort of punishment in addition to getting serious help. They should be isolated from society. Yet, half the people that are “insane” are not really. Just because someone was known to take anti-depressants does not make them insane, it makes them either have a depression disorder, or it makes them a druggy. There’s too many defenses and labels these days. If someone is truly insane, they should be kept away from society until they are sane again. However, they should definitely be punished and not defended because of their insanity!

  25. Monkey Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:37 pm      

    Oh, and stoop kid, I agree completely with you. While anyone who shoots someone does have something wrong with them, it does not make them “insane”- and they should still be punished for their wrong-doing.

  26. Kluless Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:46 pm      

    I think that the insanity defense should stay part of our legal system. In some cases people commit a crime due to some sort of mental illness. The people that committed the crime probably would not have committed it if they were sane. Before the person is found not guilty due to reason of insanity I feel many checks should be done to ensure the person really does have some sort of mental illness so they aren’t charged wrongly. By people being able to get charged with reason of insanity they have the chance to get the help they need while keeping others in society safe.

    I agree with moneymaddness when they said it would be a win-win situation for everyone. If a person that is really mentally ill is found not guilty due to reason of insanity everyone wins because that person will be getting the help they truly need and others will be kept safe from that person. It will limit the chances of that person committing another crime in the future.

  27. The Blues Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:53 pm      

    The insanity defense should no doubt still be in effect. People that are insane need to be filtered out of the prison population. I mean really you cant just say that a crime is a crime, people that dont have that mental restraint because they are not wired right should not be punished like the evil people that decided to kill or commit any crime to accomplish there own ends.

    @Padfoot They dont just let those people go, If they decide your insane they will put you in a asylums and pump ya full of meds.

  28. Mister Duke Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 8:59 pm      

    The insanity defense should still be in place. It helps people get the help they need. Even if a murder was to plea for insanity, it is a very low chance that they would get the plea. The ones that do get away with it are usually stuck in the institution for the rest of their life.

    Padfoot if someones mental illness puts them in the wrong state of mind is it just another crime? this person should get the help he needs.

  29. the thnikkaman Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:05 pm      

    It is true that those who are certifiably insane should be processed through the legal system much differently than a regular felon but anyone who exhibits behavior so unorthodox that they’re potentially dangerous should not have the liberty to endanger the lives of other people. All serial killers and murders exhibit thought patterns that would not be deemed normal but should the true psychos be allowed to roam the streets and possibly kill again because they ‘couldn’t help it’? Anyone who acts in a way that is a hazard to the lives of others should either be imprisoned or if they are ‘insane’ be diagnosed properly and confined to a care home or institution. I wholeheartedly agree with Stoopkid that a crime is a crime and an action needs to be taken against the crime if not person.

  30. countywonderer33 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:10 pm      

    The insanity defense is not a get out of jail free card. Yet, in a select few cases insanity could be a valid reason why some people commit crimes. People who are found to be “insane” should still be found guilty. However the traditional punishment process should be mofified for those with mental issues. Therefore, those people should not be allowed back into regular society.
    Grandma’s cookies, why shouldn’t the insanity defense be used for murder? That is the one case where it would definitely be used. Clearly insane people who committed murder should not be thrown into a jail cell. People who don’t even understand why what they did was wrong need special help in understanding this. If anything, muder should be one of the primary instances where the insanity defense should be used.

  31. 6.0Liter Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:16 pm      

    Insane people definitly should be helped. They shouldn’t be allowed to just go around town causing trouble and so on. First they should be tested to make sure they’re really insane and if they are they should be forced to go seek help. Insane people should not be allowed to associate with the public unless they are either completely helped which never really happens or they have a guider with them all he time. the thnikkaman: i agree with him beacause he’s right, they shuldn’t have access to the public just as I stated and they need help.

  32. sexypants3 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:17 pm      

    The insanity defense should absolutely be intact in our country. There’s no denying the fact that many people who commit crimes are forced to act in that way because they suffer from more mental health. If the defense were to be removed, mentally ill criminals would be given unfair punishments, even if they are guilty of crimes.
    Like Moneymadness said, mentally ill criminals won’t be punished or put into jail for their crimes, they would instead be given the mental aid they need to get healthier mentally.

  33. JamesCarlin Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:36 pm      

    The insanity defense should remain in effect. The insanity defense needs to be in effect because there are people who commit crimes who either cannot control what they do or they don’t think that what they’re doing is wrong. While there are some criminals who attempt to evade punishment by claiming to be clinically insane, there are people who are actually clinically insane who can’t necessarily control their actions.The insanity defense shouldn’t be taken away because of the few criminals who attempt to abuse it. Not to mention that the insanity defense is rarely used in court cases. Granted there may be people who do get away with murder because they pretend to be clinically insane, but taking the insanity defense away could possibly punish mentally insane people.

    I agree with MisterDuke, even if someone got away with murder by pretending to be mentally insane they would still have to spend the rest of their life in an institution. It’s not like they’re out running around and murdering people.

  34. Orson Welles Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:50 pm      

    I believe that the insanity defense should continue to be in effect. Psychiatrists must stand and testify about the defendant’s state of mind and the defendant will have a mental evaluation completed. Considering that the plea is only used in 1%-2% of cases, it is clearly not being overused. The defense prevents truly insane or mentally ill defendants from receiving overly harsh punishments and, in most cases, capital punishment, when they had committed a crime in a state of mind highly different from that of a normal citizen at the time. The insanity defense protects truly insane defendants and allows them to be put in an institution that is capable of specifically taking care of the insane instead of being placed into a prison that cannot deal with their mental handicaps.

    I agree with Mister Duke when he says that those who have committed murder and get the plea are usually kept at the institution for life. The insanity defense is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.

  35. LimeGreen Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:51 pm      

    I believe that it is necessary to keep the insanity defense in the Untied States court system. People do not relize how many mentally ill people there are in the world. Majority of the people who commit these awful crimes are “sane” there are some people for are suffering from a mental disability. And if you are are in court they should go though a series of psychologic test to make sure the criminal is actually mentally ill. If the suspect is suffering from an actual disease they should use insanity defense.

    I agree with Moneymaddness, it does no good for a proven insane to just sit in jail. It would do good and would not fix his problem.

  36. Gatorade Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:53 pm      

    I don’t think mentally insane people are being mistreated because there are tests performed to prove whether or not someone is legally insane or not. As well do i believe that the justice system is doing its part to deciding what is best for a mentally ill person, I don’t believe a mentally ill person gets away with murder as well because they don’t know what they’re doing it’s like in the book of mice and men Lenny didn’t know what he was capable of doing until it happened.

    I agree with Kluless because the person committing the crime would most likely not do it in the first place because if he was mentally sane then it would never occur.

  37. Chief Weed 'um Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 9:57 pm      

    The insanity defense should still be used especially if it is only used in 1-2 percent of felony cases. If a mentally ill person commits a crime and is a danger to society, they should be treated in a psychiatric facility. Mentally ill people who have committed a crime should be placed in an institution where their behavior can be monitored and kept under control. A prison is not designed to treat a mentally ill patient. These people should be treated at a psychiatric facility not put in prison. Mental illness should not be used to exempt a criminal from punishment. Depending on the crime, a criminal should be punished by going to prison and a clinically insane person should be treated in a mental institution. If they continue to be a danger to society they should not be released.

    I agree with Mister Duke when they say that mentally insane people need help and the chances are very rare that you will get the plea. If you do get the plea, you will be in an institution for the rest of your life.

  38. Ariel Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 10:04 pm      

    The insanity defense is still necessary in America. It is used only in a small amount of cases, for those people who did not know that the crime they committed was wrong. If they think what they did was right then they should not be punished in the same way as those who knew what they did was wrong are. However, if a person is deemed to be not guilty by reason of insanity they should still serve a term. If a person would have gotten a life term then they should spend their life in a mental institution. Even the mentally ill may be punished.
    Mary Queen of Scots I don’t agree with you that the insanity plea should not be used in murder trials. If a person is insane then they are insane no matter what crime they have committed. The plea is not a “get out of jail free card” if a person is actually insane.

  39. hiphopopotamus Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 10:07 pm      

    Luke Skywalker; Killing someone because you are insane is not comparable to drunk driving. The person who is the murderer is not choosing to be insane, and cannot understand the consequences of their actions. The person who drives drunk made a conscious decision to drink and get behind the wheel.

    This is a difficult argument. I think that all people who commit murders are insane to some degree, otherwise they probably would not commit the crime. However, some people are conscious of their decisions, and have motives, others cannot understand their wrong doing. There are certain situations where insanity should be pleaded, but they are circumstantial. As a whole, my opinion on this topic varies.

  40. Dumbledore Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:01 pm      

    In order to be a part of the society we have today, people should be able to control themselves. And personally I don’t think that is too much to ask. If someone has a history with anti-depressants and has an unhealthy obsession with someone they’ve never met, that is not someone that should be able to walk around and be a part of a community of people that are unaware. I don’t understand how people like that end up with guns in their hands but it seems to be happening more often. The shootings that occured at Virginia Tech. were also committed by someone who had a history of anti-depressants and was mentally unstable. Something needs to change so that these people get help before another incident like that occurs. I understand that they are completely serious they claim that they are insane because it would be extremely difficult to prove in the end if they were not, but it’s terrifying that someone so obviously unstable could get the weapons to commit a crime of that nature.
    I agree with Cheif Weed ‘um, that the punishment should also have something to do with their crime, not just their condition. But if someone can admit to a court full of people that they are insane, how come they couldn’t tell a parent or friend before that they didn’t feel right.

  41. The Incredible Hulk Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:20 pm      

    I believe the insanity defense should not be used at all. Even if the person is declared insane, but he still commits acts of violence, then he is not safe. Why should anybody who attempt to kill somebody be let off the hook because they are declared insane? It just doesn’t make sense to me. No matter who the person is, if they commit an act of injustice, then justice should be served.

    With what Gatorade said about Of Mice and Men, Lenny’s act was an accident. The man who tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan planned it out. I can see Lenny being let off the hook for what he did but not what the man tried to do to Reagan. That man should not have been let off the hook. And I also think America does a good job with dealing with this case.

  42. pompomgurl6117 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:27 pm      

    I believe the insanity defense should still be in effect. Insane people not only commit crimes but do not see any harm or how wrong the crimes were. There are vigorous tests preformed to prove if a person is mentally stable or not. I think that the people who are declared insane should not get off easy as most people think. They should still be treated like a criminal because they are a criminal but have specialists to stablize them in the institution. Furthermore, the insane defense should still be in effect but the treatment of these criminals should be regulated.

    Im hungry, you raise a good point about how the patients should go through rigorous tests to make sure they are insane and also when they “get better.” But if a person is truely insane it would be extremely hard to change their mental state because once they are put back in their previous enviornment they could revert back to their original state.

  43. the glass passenger Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:34 pm      

    The insanity defense should be kept in affect since it is only dealing with a rather small amount of cases. My oppinion would be different if insanity was being plead and used as justification in a majority of cases but as of today this isn”t so. Those with mental illnesses do not have a choice in having their disease and sometimes do not have the choice or full control over committing crimes. Therefore they shouldnt also have to deal with being called a criminal or felon on top of their already existing case. I agree with Aeriel though that the mentally ill should still be punished though after the verdict of insanity is accepted and sent somewhere confined and where they can get medical attention they need.

  44. bballcutie14 Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:40 pm      

    I believe that we should keep the insanity defense. There are a lot of messed up people out there. The brain is such a fragile thing, that when something goes wrong with it, it can really twist you up. There is so much hate and crime out there that it is amazing that were not all insane. A person can only take so much before they snap. If someone seems to come across as being crazy, than they should be sent to get analyzed. A professional can tell when someone is pretending. If some one really did something because they are not right in the brain than they should be sent to get help. They should not just be put behind bars and forgotten about.

    I agree with MonkeyMaddness they stated that if we abolish the insanity defense, we would be putting people away who would need treatment to help cope with their illness. If they don’t get help than that there brain will still be messed up, they would just get crazier being locked up.

  45. Remus_Lupin Said,

    May 15, 2011@ 11:45 pm      

    It’s hard to say what should really be done in the case of insanity. It wouldn’t be fair to punish a mentally ill person more harshly than they deserve for a crime they had no control over. And yet, so many people could pretend to be insane to try and get away with doing evil with a lesser punishment. But in the end I believe that we should keep the insanity plea. Despite the fact that it might be ill-used, there are still cases where it is needed. A sick person shouldn’t have to suffer greater consequences when they weren’t in control of their actions. Even if just one out of every few insanity pleas is truly insane, it’s that one person who needs it to stay because they need help as part of their sentence, not to be trapped in a cell with other prisoners where they could easily hurt someone else.

    I agree with Dumbledore, I think there should be a way to stop these things before they happen. It shouldn’t be so easy for someone who has an unstable history to be able to get a hold of a weapon. It makes me feel like someone could just suddenly go wild and start shooting randomly at any given moment because somehow they managed to get their hands on a gun. It really is terrifying.

  46. Gingersnap Said,

    May 16, 2011@ 12:05 am      

    The insanity does have a place in the American judicial system. Although it may be abuse from time to time, It can’t be taken away simply because of that. There are, indeed, those out there who commit crimes purely because they are insane, it’s not their fault, and therefore they cannot be held accountable for their actions like a normal, sane person would be. Especially in cases in which the offender is impoverished or for some other reason can’t acquire the proper medication they need to be able to function; it doesn’t do any good to place them in a standard correctional facility where they have the potential to cause or endure even more harm, they need to be serviced appropriately to their disabilities, otherwise we’re just beating a dead horse, so to speak.

    Monkey, isolating people from society doesn’t help them get better. If anything, it makes them more insane.


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