Each year the number of murders increases. Do you ever wonder if these murders would stop if the “criminals” were not given the verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI)? In order to be eligible for this an individual must not be in a correct state of mind when the murder took place. Oftentimes, people feel that lawyers misrepresent clients as insane; when in actuality the client is competent to decipher right from wrong. In the following text, we will analyze our research of what effects Texas A&M students’ views on using insanity defense in murder trials, focusing on political views, number of sociology or psychology classes taken, and hometown population size. Theory
Insanity defense in murder trials has been a heated debate for years. Many people feel wronged when a killer does not receive equal justice. We believe a student’s view on insanity defense can be dependent on at least three independent variables: political affiliation, number of sociology or psychology classes taken, and their hometown population. Political affiliation associates an individual with certain ideas and beliefs. Each political party embodies different ideas that people can relate to. Once an individual finds a party that closely relates their beliefs, they feel a connection with that particular party. For example, Democrats normally hold liberal or progressive ideas, where Republicans are more conservative. Conservatives are known for wanting stronger punishments for criminals like the death penalty; while liberals are against this. It is a common assumption that if a person knows more about a certain topic then he or she can create more knowledgeable opinions about those topics. In sociology and psychology classes, people learn about why people act the way they do and how they think before, during, and after they make a decision, good or bad. If an individual has not taken any sociology or psychology classes, then we can safely assume they will likely be ignorant on the subject, thus being less sympathetic to the criminally insane and oppose the insanity defense. On the other hand, people who have taken these classes will be more sympathetic and support the issue. The environment a person grows up in can play an integral part in forming their opinions. People that live in larger towns tend to be more impersonal; which can result in less understanding of the mentally ill and will likely be against the insanity defense. In contrast, if a person grows up in a small town who knows others on a more personal level, they will be more understanding of the mentally ill and support the insanity defense. Hypothesis:
1. Texas A&M students who best described their political views as liberal will have the highest average support score for insanity as a defense, followed by those who reported moderate and conservative, respectively 2. Texas A&M students who report that they have taken 3 or more sociology or psychology classes will most likely ‘agree’ with the following statement, “The insanity defense is fair because insane people cannot control their actions,” than those who have taken 1 to 2 and zero classes, respectively. 3. The higher the Texas A&M students’ hometown population, according to citytowninfo.com, the higher the support scores for insanity as a defense will be. Literature Review:
In the article “Venire person’s Attitudes towards the Insanity Defense,” the authors describe various difficulties in choosing an unbiased juror. The authors developed their own study to measure opinions on insanity defense in order to create a more efficient and effective system on picking jurors. Data was collected in 2004 by setting up mock trials with 426 randomly picked venirepersons to determine views on the issue. The study found that certain questions help determine this, that will, in turn, aid to eliminate juror bias. This relates to our study in helping to develop the correct interview questions. In the article...
Cited: Bloechl, Angela L., Michael J. Vitacco, Craig S. Neumann, and Steven E. Erickson. "An Empirical Investigation of Insanity Defnese Attitudes: Exploring Factors Related to Bias." International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 30 (2007): 153-61. Science Direct. Web. 28 Oct. 20010. .
"Empircal Research on the Insanity Denfense and Attempted Reform: Evidence towards Informaed Policy." Law and Human Behavior 23.3 (1999): 375-94. Springer. Web. 28 Oct. 2010. .
Skeem, Jennifer L., Jennifer E. Louden, and Jennee Evans. "Venireperson 's Attitudes Toward the Insanity Defense: Developing, Refining, and Validating a Scale." Law and Human Behavior 28.6 (2004): 623-48. Springer. Web. 28 Oct. 2010. .
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