Insanity Defense Pros and Cons

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 insanity you must have had no knowledge of your wrongdoing. This Catch-22 proves the insanity defense needs to be reexamined and edited. Also, mental illness does not dismiss the fact that a crime has taken place, and those who are guilty should be held accountable. “…in some jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, a person found not guilty of a sex crime by reason of insanity must register as a sex offender, as though that person had been convicted” (Megan’s Law). Though they are found not guilty by reason of insanity they are still required to register, like the rest of the guilty.

This law shows that our government still treats a person guilty of a crime though they have been legally claimed to be not guilty. This contradiction makes the insanity defense null. The insanity defense is unclear and ineffective, which is why the United States Judicial system should abolish the insanity defense. I feel that the United States Judicial system should employ the use of the sentence, “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. ” We should not punish individuals for actions they had no control over or did not understand were wrong.

Instead, we should provide rehabilitation for those individuals who have committed a crime but were found (NGRI). Though this does not provide closure for the victims’ families, it would be highly beneficial to the betterment of the United States. Exemplified by Grechek, putting mentally ill patients in with the general prison population holds no valuable purpose. If these people are rehabilitated, they deserve a free slate. As stated above, children and mentally incompetent individuals are not held accountable for their crimes because they didn’t know what they did was wrong.

You only teach them what they did was wrong and send them on their way. In principle, with the (NGRI) sentence, we would be doing the same exact thing. The (NGRI) sentencing would remove hazardous individuals from society to treat them until they are fit to return once again. If you were held at gunpoint to commit a crime, you would be found not guilty. How is being held at gunpoint any different from the persuasion of a paranoid schizophrenic mind? We need to start looking at the criminally insane as people in need of alternate rehabilitation instead of disobedient criminals.