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NCJ Number: 76687 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: New Illinois Provisions for Defendants Found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Journal: Illinois Bar Journal  Volume:68  Dated:(April 1980)  Pages:528-532
Author(s): R H Loverude
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses the constitutional issues of Illinois' 1977 law which provides for continuing court jurisdiction over defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity but in need of psychiatric treatment.
Abstract: Under the old Unified Code of Corrections, Illinois courts lost jurisdiction over a person acquitted by reason of insanity after ordering commitment to the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. Admission, treatment, and discharge of the defendant were then governed by the Mental Health Code. In response to mental health officials who did not want sole responsibility for determining if a defendant was no longer dangerous, these provisions were amended in August 1977. If the State attorney requests a hearing prior to the release of a defendant or if the defendant petitions for release, a court hearing must be held to determine whether or not the person needs mental treatment. The burden of establishing clear and convincing evidence is on the State when the Attorney General petitions for a hearing but falls on the defendants when they are the petitioners. These standards are substantially different from those accorded other committed mental patients. The U.S. Supreme Court in Baxstrom v. Herold found that prisoners commited to a mental institution at the end of their sentences were denied equal protection because they were deprived of a jury trial permitted under State law to all persons committed. Thus, the Illinois provisions requiring a court review for persons acquitted on insanity pleas and placing the burden of proof on the defendant are in serious constitutional trouble on equal protection grounds. Different standards for release were also condemned by the Supreme Court decision in Jackson v. Indiana which found equal protection violations when the accused was subject to more lenient commitment criteria and more stringent standards of release. The requirement that the defendant petitioning for release prove mental treatment is no longer needed also invokes due process problems, as evidenced in People v. McCullum. Since court rulings have emphasized that States cannot be expected to predict dangerous behavior beyond a reasonable doubt, it seems unfair to place the same burdens of evidence on a committed person. Because psychiatric predictions are often unreliable, mental health professionals may tend to favor continued hospitalization rather than take the chance of predicting a defendant no longer dangerous. Over 60 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Civil commitment; Constitutional Rights/Civil Liberties; Court referrals; Equal Protection; Illinois; Insanity defense; Jurisdiction; Mentally ill offenders; Right to Due Process; State laws
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