Insanity Defense Reform Essay

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The 1984 Insanity Defense Reform Act was passed by Congress after an infamous trial that shocked the United States. United States v. Hinckley was notorious because it was one of the rare cases where the insanity defense worked and the defendant was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The result of this case caused a huge public outcry against the insanity defense. Debate began to form over how to amend the insanity defense. This paper will critically analyze three scholarly journals. Each journal addresses aspects of United States v. Hinckley and the Insanity Defense Reform Act that would follow. The three journal articles that will be reviewed are: The Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984: Much Ado About Nothing by Norman Finkel, Bringing …show more content…

This article talked a great deal about how the rules and procedures when it comes to the insanity defense are inconsistent and unclear. United States v. Hinckley showed the public how inconsistent and unclear the criminal procedures are. The article provided a statement from a juror involved in the Hinckley case. The gist of the statement was that even the experts used in the trial could not determine the defendant’s sanity, which made it even harder for the jurors to determine as well. The combination of confusing expert testimony and how the law was written were the cause of the not guilty verdict. The authors stated that the public blamed the instructions and were surprised by the verdict. The authors stated the reason why was because the jurors literally followed the law. They stated that the public presumed that the jurors would find Hinckley guilty, due to the factual guilt. Another deficit brought up by the authors, is the procedures when committing someone. Often times when a person is found not guilty of insanity they are taken to a mental institution. They soon get treated and then every so often they get a release hearing. Both authors brought up the fact that at the hearings, the roles reverse and the defense has to prove sanity and the government has to prove insanity, which only adds fuel to the confusion and contradictions. The authors agree that the …show more content…

I agree that the insanity defense is morally right. There are defects of the system. However, the criminal justice system’s foundation is made up of moral integrity. As a society we have decided to excuse those who lack the moral capabilities to know right from wrong. The murkiness of the system should not automatically equate to the abolishment of the defense. I agree with the author’s counter argument to the criticism of the defense being discriminatory towards those who are poor. The comparison is moot. The line between a poor person under extreme duress and a mentally ill person can be blurred at times. However, if a poor person commits a crime and are deemed mentally ill then, they should be excused. That is what society has deemed acceptable. It is not because society is cruel it is because we have decided that everyone should be acceptable for their actions, with the exception of individuals with mental illnesses. Also agree with the author when he stated that the effectiveness of the system would not be better if the defense was abolished. The efficiency of the system would not be contingent on the abolishment of the insanity defense. There are other problems that conflict the system and make it just as ineffective. The author’s argument that the new test that should be created should not be determinately defined is quite broad. The author should be a lot more specific when they talk about that the new test

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