Pros and Cons of the Insanity Plea

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Insane Insanity Plea
The option to utilize the insanity defense in court should be supported because it is needed to acquit those individuals who had no control over their actions due to a physical ailment, to put a mentally ill patient in with the general prison population would be unconstitutional, and those who are mentally insane need special services for rehabilitation. The insanity defense should be available to those who had no control of their actions due to a physical illness. “D wounded a female neighbor friend whilst sleepwalking. They had been watching videos and she fell asleep on the sofa, he hit her with a bottle and a video recorder and grabbed her round the throat. He was sleepwalking at the time” (Harrison). This man was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity. The fact that the man had no intent or control should excuse him from his crimes, as the insanity defense has been set up to do. Putting a mentally ill patient into a prison would be unconstitutional. To punish individuals for crimes they didn’t know they have committed would be cruel and unusual punishment. To qualify for legal mental insanity, a person must have had no control and/or knowledge of what they have done is wrong. To convict these individuals would go against the very principle our nation is based on. As a society, we do not convict young children or mentally challenged persons due to the fact that one cannot be guilty of a crime they didn’t know they have committed. To convict the mentally ill would contradict our nation’s precedents. Those who are insane need alternate forms of rehabilitation, different from the average prison population. “A mentally ill prisoner “responded to the stress [of hearing another prisoner’s murder] by cutting himself, and was subsequently given a disciplinary report and placed in an isolation cell for ‘destruction of state property” (Grachek). This prisoner was not provided the appropriate response for his mental illness due to lack of understanding in prisons. He will not benefit from being punished opposed to counseling and psychiatric care. The criminally insane need a special form of rehabilitation and should be granted to right to fight for this sentence. The insanity defense serves a definitive purpose in our legal system dismissing those who should truly be found innocent.

The option to utilize the insanity defense in court should not be supported because it is not always effective for those who truly need it, it is a Catch-22 and a mental illness does not dismiss the fact that a crime has taken place. The insanity plea should be abolished because it does not help those who need it, the bar at which you qualify for insanity is near unreachable, which renders the plea useless. “Psychiatrists who examined Andrea Yates testified repeatedly she was mentally ill and suffered from severe postpartum depression -- but that was not enough to brand her legally insane” (Seligman). This woman was later retried and did succeed in using the insanity defense. The fact that she was not allowed to use it the first time shows how hard it is to succeed using this defense. The first time she tried to use the defense, she clearly qualified but was dismissed due to other factors; if the plea is not for the insane then who is it for? The insanity plea should be reexamined because it is a Catch-22. “Owen Atlee Walker Jr. of Newport News, who on Feb. 2 took a hunting knife and stabbed his girlfriend 26 times, with their two young kids in the next room. Then he cleaned off the murder weapon with bleach, drove to the Newport News sheriff's office and confessed” (Dietrich). This man will be claimed to be not guilty due to the insanity plea. That this man went to confess after the killings and that this man to choose to plea insanity would indicate his knowledge of wrongdoing, which should have labeled him ‘not insane.’ To plea insanity, one would have to know what they did was wrong. To plea...
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