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NCJ Number: 127883 Find in a Library
Title: Alabama's Insanity Defense: Now in Accord With Post-Hinckley Attitudes
Journal: Law and Psychology Review  Volume:13  Dated:(Spring 1989)  Pages:165-173
Author(s): C K Hartley
Date Published: 1989
Page Count: 9
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: After reviewing the history of the insanity test in Alabama and the State's 1988 amendment to the insanity defense, this article argues for the reinstatement of the volitional prong of the insanity test in Alabama.
Abstract: In response to the public outcry when John Hinckley was acquitted for the attempted assassination of President Reagan, the Alabama legislature amended the State's code to disallow the volitional or freedom-of-will prong of the insanity test. Under the amended insanity test, only persons who are so mentally incapacitated that they do not know right from wrong can be acquitted under the test. Mentally ill persons under compulsion who have lost the ability to control their behavior, but can still distinguish right from wrong, will not pass the insanity test. The volitional prong of the insanity test should be restored in Alabama law; otherwise, the volitional and emotional aspects of the personality are ignored in the test. The amended test also requires medical experts, instead of the jury, to make moral judgments regarding criminal responsibility. Further, it limits the medical expert's testimony to something less than a full profile of the defendant's mental condition. It disallows the defense to those with partial impairments, and it discriminates against defendants who are medically mentally ill, but do not satisfy the legislature's narrow definition of mental illness. 64 footnotes
Main Term(s): Insanity defense
Index Term(s): Alabama; Criminal intent; Law reform; Mentally ill offenders
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