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NCJ Number: 97135 Find in a Library
Title: Reconsideration of the Insanity Defense and Related Issues in the Aftermath of the Hinckley Trial
Journal: Psychiatric Quarterly  Volume:54  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1982)  Pages:260-264
Author(s): A L Halpern
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 5
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The insanity defense undermines public respect for the courts and the law; its elimination should be accompanied by the legislative stipulation of varying degrees of culpable mental states, so that allowance can be made for a defendant's mental disability when it is asserted in a given case.
Abstract: Since 1964, a number of events and trends have created a climate that suggests the value of abolishing the insanity defense. With the abolition of capital punishment in New York and other States, the use of the insanity defense is an anachronism, and U.S. Supreme Court decisions suggest that abolition of the insanity defense would not be held unconstitutional. Further, a number of judges, including Chief Justice Warren Burger, have argued for the elimination of the insanity defense. Also, the use of the insanity defense has risen dramatically; and with the increased publicity in the more egregious cases over the past few years, insanity trials have confused the public. The elimination of the insanity defense will contribute to rational practices in America's criminal justice system. However, as long as it is retained, the burden of proof should be placed on the defendant. Further, legislation should be enacted so that charges are not dropped against offenders who are considered dangerous just because they are not likely in the foreseeable future to be competent to stand trial. Finally, a standard for the determination of competency should be adopted. Seventeen references are included.
Index Term(s): Competency to stand trial; Criminally insane persons; Insanity defense; Law reform
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