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NCJ Number: 99385 Find in a Library
Title: Review Essay - Mental Illness and Criminal Justice
Journal: Criminal Justice Ethics  Volume:3  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer/Fall 1984)  Pages:62-67
Author(s): J Neu
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 6
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This review of Norval Morris' book 'Madness and the Criminal Law' discusses competency to stand trial, the insanity defense, and sentencing.
Abstract: In the first five chapters, Morris elucidates distinctions between moral and criminal guilt in a series of fictionalized case narratives. In his discussions of sentencing in chapters 4 and 5, Morris' main intention is to make room for mercy and parsimony in a world of punishment governed by retributivist principles of just deserts. His main point is that while law sets limits and a range of merited punishment for given types of offenses, it leaves free play for the functioning of discretion. His discussion includes consideration of factors taken into account in determining just desert, the workings of presumptive sentencing, and how mental illness can serve as both a mitigating and an aggravating circumstance. Morris also examines difficulties with the incompetency defense, particularly in cases where competency is unrestorable, and argues for the abolition of the insanity defense on the grounds that the issues are legal, moral, and political rather than medical or psychological. While Morris argues that the insanity defense is unnecessary because it can be reduced to issues of responsibility, this approach does not resolve the difficult moral and causal questions involved. The review concludes that overall, Morris has written an engaging, stimulating, and provocative book that makes a valuable contribution to pressing social issues. Two footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Competency to stand trial; Criminal intent; Criminal responsibility; Insanity defense; Literature reviews; Mentally ill offenders; Policy analysis
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