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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98486 Find in a Library
Title: Fifth Amendment - Indefinite Commitment of Insanity Acquittees and Due Process Considerations - Jones v United States, 103 S Ct 3043 (1983)
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:74  Issue:4  Dated:(Winter 1984)  Pages:1334-1352
Author(s): D R Shralow
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 19
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In Jones v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that insanity acquittees may be committed to a mental institution for an indefinite time without being afforded the due process protections required for a civil commitment.
Abstract: Since 1970, a defendant in the District of Columbia who raises the insanity defense has had the burden of establishing insanity by a preponderance of the evidence. In 'Jones,' the U.S. Supreme Court held that the District of Columbia statutory scheme that permits the indefinite hospitalization of insanity acquittees is not offensive to due process rights, even though the government need not carry the burden of proof as to the mental illness or dangerousness of the acquittee. The Court also ruled that the period of hospitalization need bear no relation to the prison term the acquittee would have served had he been convicted of the charged crime. The Court made an erroneous decision, because it relied on two false assumptions: (1) the insanity acquittal sufficiently proves mental illness and dangerousness so as to justify commitment and (2) the risk of erroneous commitment is less in confinements resulting from insanity acquittals than in those resulting from civil commitment proceedings. The Court should have used a separate due process analysis for the case, because the deprivation of liberty was so severe. A total of 131 footnotes are provided.
Index Term(s): Burden of proof; Civil commitment; District of Columbia; Insanity defense; Mentally ill offenders; Right to Due Process; US Supreme Court decisions
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