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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97134 Find in a Library
Title: Further Comments on the Insanity Defense in the Aftermath of the Hinckley Trial
Journal: Psychiatric Quarterly  Volume:56  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1984)  Pages:62-69
Author(s): A L Halpern
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 8
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The abolition of the insanity defense is in the best interests of all concerned -- the public, the law-abiding mentally ill, the mentally disordered defendant, the criminal justice system, the legal profession, and the psychiatric profession.
Abstract: Abolition would benefit the public by ensuring that the government would retain undisputed control of defendants convicted of antisocial acts and who may still be dangerous to the community. Additionally, abolition would benefit defendants by protecting them from the stigma of the label 'criminally insane,' and it would benefit the criminal justice system by relieving the prosecutor of having to prove sanity when the insanity defense is raised in jurisdictions where the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. Abolition would further benefit the criminal justice system by doing away with the requirements of court hearings, and in some States jury trials, when certain insanity acquittees, considered by some to be dangerous, seek their release. The legal profession would also benefit, because lawyers would no longer have to argue for 'innocence' and 'acquittal' which do not lead to liberty. Finally, abolition would benefit the psychiatric profession by preventing the most serious form of misuse of psychiatry: the treating of an institutionalized 'patient' who is found by the psychiatrist during the 'treatment' not to be mentally ill. Narrowing the M'Naghten type insanity rule -- as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Bar Association, and the Department of Justice are urging Congress to do -- will not reduce moral mistakes in the administration of the insanity defense; the defense must be abolished. Twelve references are included.
Index Term(s): Criminally insane persons; Dangerousness; Insanity defense; Law reform
Note: Paper presented at the Second World Congess on Prison Health Care, Ottawa, Canada, August 28-31, 1983.
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