top-rated free essay

The Insanity Defense Part I When is the insanity plea a reasonable and

By Alecmexy2 Oct 27, 2004 865 Words
The Insanity Defense Part I

Outline

When is the insanity plea a reasonable and ethical tool?

Thesis: Although some criminals abuse the insanity plea by invoking it to escape being punished for their crimes, the insanity plea should nevertheless still be allowed for those with a documented record of mental illness.

I. Background information on the insanity plea [the M'Naughten case]

II. Abusing the insanity plea

III. Importance of the insanity plea in the judicial system

IV. Example of cases in which the insanity plea had been used

V. Summary of main points

The common awareness that our legal system is based upon the belief that a person is responsible for his action, but this is not applicable to the mentally insane who commit crimes. The mentally ill use the insanity plea to keep them away from prison or the electric chair whenever they commit crimes, and these crimes are in most cases very severe. This (Insanity Defense) is an endeavor to place in morality into our so called perfect law because there is no perfect test to know if the acclaimed criminal is insane or not. Contrary to what a few people who have lost their loved ones through the act of an insane person, and most people who oppose the insanity plea say, a person who commits a crime and at the time the crime was committed he was not in his correct sate of mind and cannot differentiate between wrong and right, the person should not be held accountable for that crime according to the M'Naghten rule.

Daniel M'Naghten, according to the book The Guilty Mind, by John Biggs, was a "Scotsman" who accidentally shot Edward Drummond who was "principal secretary" to Prime Minister Robert Peel in 1843. M'Naghten intended to shoot the prime minister, but mistakenly shot Drummond, thinking that he was Peel

Drummond died and M'Naghten "was charged with first-degree murder". Today it is certain that M'Naghten was "insane" when he committed the murder. John Biggs explained that M'Naghten was delusional and also hallucinated, and that "his conduct in London, as proven by sworn evidence of the witness, was mad indeed" (95-96). Biggs further stated that "M'naghten was 'under the influence of a form of mental disorder symptomized by delusions of persecution, in which Peel appeared as one of the persecutors"[97].

M'naghten was acquitted on "the ground of insanity" ,and was sent to "Bethlehem Hospital" to "await the crown pleasure", but was later moved to "Broadmoor" where he died after twenty years, "probably of diabetes mellitus" [102].

After the acquital of M'naghten the "M'naghten rule" which to this day is used in England was formulated, and it states that "defendants may be acquitted only if they labored 'under such defect of reason from disease of the mind' as to not realize what they were doing or why it was a crime" {The Washington Post. 27 Feb 1998. John P. Martin

27 October 2004. .

Most people believe that the insanity defense should be abolished because many criminals now use it to escape crime, and because it is now being rampantly used; part of this is true, but should the insanity defense be abolished because of the act of a few scheming criminals? what justice would there be then for those few who are actually insane and have a background of mental illness, those who do not have contorl over their actions, and cannot differentiate between right or wrong. In his book the guilty mind, John Biggs explained and I quote "The act and worng of a madman should not be imputed to him, for that in those causes, [.....and others] he is without his mind or discretion" [85].

Also contrary to what people think, the insanity plea is just popular and not over used. A 1991 eight-state study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health held that "the insanity defense was used in less than one percent of the cases in a representative sampling of cases before those states' county courts. The study showed that only 26 percent of those insanity pleas were argued successfully. Most studies show that in approximately 80 percent of the cases where a defendant is acquitted on a "not guilty by reason of insanity" finding..........Other studies over the past two decades report similar findings. According to Myths and Realities: A Report of the National Commission on the Insanity Defense, in 1982 only 52 of 32,000 adult defendants represented by the Public Defender's office in New Jersey--less than two tenths of one percent--entered the insanity plea, and only 15 were successful. A similar number of insanity defense pleadings--"far less than one percent"--were entered in Virginia during the same period. A 2001 study in Manhattan (Kirschner and Galperin) noted that over a ten year period, psychiatric defenses were offered by only 16 out of every 10,000 indicted defendants. More than 75% of the time that a psychiatric defense was successful, it was the result of the prosecutors' consent. Out of nearly 100,000 felony indictments during that period, only 17 juries heard arguments concerning the insanity defense and their deliberations resulted in only 4 insanity acquittals" {American Psychiatric Association. 9 Jan. 1996. American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 20 Oct. 2004 .The insanity plea is therefore hardly

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Insanity Plea

    ..."Not guilty by reason of insanity" and "diminished capacity" Although a defense known as "diminished capacity" bears some resemblance to the "reason of insanity" defense (in that both examine the mental competence of the defendant), there are important differences. The most fundamental of these is that, while "reason of insanity" is a full defe...

    Read More
  • Insanity Defense

    ... Insanity Defense Samantha Valladares Psychology A5 Insanity defense is something everyone has a different perspective on. Some people accept it, while others don’t believe it’s the correct thing to do.  In criminal trials, insanity defense is the claim that the defendant is not responsible for his or her ac...

    Read More
  • Insanity Defense

    ...For years, the insanity defense has developed and turned into a difficult but sometime successful defense system in a court of law. The exact law changes from state to state however the main idea remains the same. The insanity defense could apply or be used on a person who is considered legally insane. They must have a severe mental disease or d...

    Read More
  • The insanity Plea

    ... Many people have heard about the insanity defense in different famous cases where it has come up and been used. The insanity defense is a compromise between society and the law, meaning that society believes that criminals shouldn't be punished if they are mentally incapable of controlling their conduct. There is a lot of controversy with ...

    Read More
  • Insanity Plea

    ... Insanity Plea 2014-08-19 The insanity defense is a topic that seems to garner a lot of attention even though it is rarely used and only a few cases that invoke are actually successful. A combination of highly publicized cases that use it and the public’s misunderstanding of exactly what happens when someone is found “not...

    Read More
  • Insanity Defense

    ...Insanity Defense Donita Estes, Patrick Fostso, Jennia McCray, Yasmine McGee, Inga Payne CJA/354 October 22, 2012 Samara Belgarde, J.D. Insanity Defense The criminal justice system in America is one of the fair systems in the world where anyone will be innocent until proven of guilt. The whole concept of the court system emphasizes how ou...

    Read More
  • Insanity Defense

    ... Insanity Defense: Why Should It Be Eliminated Or Altered Hassan Khan Ozark Technical College Mr. Brett Houser ...

    Read More
  • The Insanity Plea: History and Implications

    ...social regulation. The justification for this mechanism lies in the assumption that the criminally insane are irrational and therefore non-responsible of their crimes. As we examine the history and implications of the insanity plea, a few questions should be kept in mind---1. How can we be sure that a person is indeed insane (he could be putting...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.