Can a Criminal Be Rehabilitated Back Into Society

Topics: Insanity defense, Mental disorder, Crime Pages: 6 (2385 words) Published: March 29, 2010
The purpose of this paper is to research the whole subject of criminals and their rehabilitation. This is a discussion of what society’s responsibility in this matter is and how to approach whether it is reform or punishing those who commit the crime. Should a criminal who claims insanity be rehabilitated into society? This is a common argument that many people find themselves wondering if such thing is possible when a heinous crime has been committed. It is stated that juries find for only about 20 percent of the defendants who plead insanity. Sixty to 70 percent of insanity pleas are for crimes other than murder. They range from assault to shoplifting. There are some opponents that attack the insanity defense for confusing psychiatric and legal concepts, in the process undermining the moral integrity of the law. During the 150 years or so the insanity defense has been and still is an issue in the U.S. within our criminal law and the medical psychology that have gone through many tireless changes in the criminal responsibility and the mental illness relationship. Ignoring this issue we may have steered away from an important source in our struggle with this type of defense. The United States Federal law states that insanity is a fair defense if at the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality of the wrongfulness of his or her acts. When invoking insanity as a defense, a defendant is required to notify the prosecution. In some states, sanity is determined by the judge or jury in a separate proceeding following the determination of guilt or innocence at trial. In other states, the defense is either accepted or rejected in the verdict of the judge or jury. Even if evidence of insanity does not win a verdict of not guilty, the sentencing court may consider it as a mitigating factor. The criminal justice system under which all men and women are tried holds a concept called mens rea, a Latin phrase that means "state of mind". According to this concept, criminals committed who commit their crimes are oblivious of the wrongfulness of their actions. A mentally challenged person, including one with mental retardation, who cannot distinguish between right and wrong is protected and exempted by the court of law from being unfairly punished for his/her crime. Insanity, what does that word mean? I don’t have a clear cut definition for it but for most of us when we think of that word we think of someone mentally ill or just plain crazy. Does insanity makes us loose the thought of moral value and or our justification from right from wrong? It is stated that most socially recognized authorities such as psychiatrists, medical doctors, and lawyers agree that it is a brain disease. Let say it is a brain disease should we link insanity with other brain diseases like strokes and Parkinsonism? Unlike these two diseases, whose causes can be medically accounted for through a behavioral deficit such as paralysis, and weakness, how can one explain the behavior of crimes done by such criminals? Doctor’s and psychiatrists describe what they say insanity is a neurological illness explaining it to a jury a person's or in this case a criminal’s reason and behavior. It rarely excuses it. Insanity is now considered a legal concept not a medical diagnosis. The most widely known rule in the insanity defense refers to the M'Naghten rule which arose in 1983 during the trial of Daniel M'Naghten who pleaded that he was not responsible for his murders because he suffered from delusions at the time of that he committed the crime. The rule states that a criminal defendant may be excused from criminal responsibility if at the time of the crime, the person accused was laboring under such a defect of reason, from a mental illness, as not to know the nature and the quality of the act he or she was doing. The biggest problem I feel...

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