Civil Commitment and the Mentally Essay

The usage of the insanity defense in criminal cases dates back to the mid 1500s, however was first addressed by the British courts in 1843 with the case of MNaughten (From Daniel MNaughten to John Hinkley: A Brief History of the Insanity Defense, n.d.). Due to varying controversies surrounding the insanity defense, it was reevaluated by the in 1962 in order to allow in evidence such as psychiatric and medical (From Daniel MNaughten to John Hinkley: A Brief History of the Insanity Defense, n.d.). After the attempted murder of President Reagan by John Hinkley, the insanity defense was again reevaluated and twenty states chose to institute a variation to the defense calling it guilty but mentally ill (From Daniel MNaughten to John Hinkley: A Brief History of the Insanity Defense, n.d.).

Statistically, the insanity defense is used in less than one percent of cases and has proven only to be successful in one-quarter of the cases that it is used in (Hooper and McLearen, 2002). According to Hooper and McLearen (2002), often, the two parties come to an agreement where the accused would be better served by entering into treatment as opposed to going to prison. There are several factors that do lead to the success of the insanity defense. One study showed that if a defendant in a murder case states that they suffer from delusions and paranoia, there is a higher likelihood that the jury will give a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity (Conner, 2006).

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There are many controversies to the insanity defense. One of them is that defendants plead insanity in order to avoid punishment for their crimes. However, according to one article, this is often not the best course of action because defendants that are then found sane tend to for their crimes (Insanity Defense Is There A Need for the Insanity Defense?, n.d.). In some states, the insanity defense cannot even be used meaning that if someone is convicted of a crime, but does have mental illness will end up being treated in prison (Hooper and McLearen, 2002).

When a mentally ill person is convicted of a crime, it is often left to the corrections department to treat that person. Some of these issues include administering medication, counseling, and follow up programs. Most insane criminals are not housed in state medical facilities anymore due to funding issues and instead are placed in prisons and jails (The Sentencing Project, 2002). Not only are with the task of maintaining order with the general population of prisoners, they also have to be on alert with the . There are also many concerns about what happens after the inmate is released as well (The Sentencing Project, 2002). If an inmate is released and has mental issues, then there is no guarantee that they will continue to receive treatment.

In regards to the insanity defense, I believe that there are some people out there that genuinely are suffering from a mental illness that caused them to commit the crime in question. It is unfortunate that sometimes little stock is placed in the insanity defense because people feel the criminal is trying to get off easy. I feel that if a person does commit a crime and they are really suffering from delusions, they should be able to obtain some sort of treatment while incarcerated. However, I think it is sad that once they are released, there is the likelihood they will commit a crime again because they are not getting their treatment. There is so much controversy surrounding the insanity defense and that is why I think some states did adopt the guilty but mentally ill defense. I believe that if a person commits a criminal act, they are guilty of committing that act. However, if they are mentally ill, that should be taken into consideration as well. Overall, it is a controversial defense and should be used with care.

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