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John Hinckley's Insanity Defense

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One of the most notorious cases of the insanity plea took place during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. A man by the name of John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Reagan in an attempt to impress a young actress named Jodie Foster. Hinckley manifested several signs of mental illness early in his adult life, prior to his assassination attempt. As a teenager and young adult, Hinckley lived an unenthusiastic, melancholy life. He began to develop signs of depression in his teen years, and swore not to attend college. His mood was made clear in his several suicide attempts throughout his early life. However, with his discovery of actress Jodie Foster, his attitude began to change from depressed to infatuated.
After watching the
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NPD gives its host a grandiose sense of self-pride, and SPD forces a person to act in a sheltered, anti-social manner (Capps 262). Because delusions and hallucinations are not associated with NPD and SPD, the prosecutors were able to argue that his delusions regarding Jodie Foster were not unintentionally brought on, but instead, they were false hopes that Hinckley conducted himself. The defense attorneys and the prosecutors spent an immense amount of time analyzing Hinckley, and attempting to determine the type of mental disorder he had. Hinckley was ultimately diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, and in every attempt to be released from his hospital confinement, the judge would argue that his NPD caused him to lack judgment about his illness, and was therefore a threat to society (Capps…show more content…
Without the insanity plea, those who are not in equal in mental stability are disproportionately punished by being convicted as any other criminal. The insanity defense is not an attempt to justify the person’s actions by any means. The plea deal is simply a way of ensuring a punishment commensurate to that of their mental boundary. If a defendant has no possible method of controlling his or her thoughts, then his or her punishment should not be equal to that of someone who is fully capable of forming a mens rea. Moreover, despite the prevalence of the insanity plea in our popular culture, it is not that prevalent in actual court cases. As rare as an insanity plea is, the chance of being acquitted by pleading “not guilty by reason of insanity” is even more rare. The stakes of pleading insane are high, and if one is found guilty, then his or her incarceration time may be substantially longer than that of a simple guilty verdict. The mentally ill, due to the state of their minds, cannot be expected to think the same as a sane person. They cannot be expected to completely grasp the concept of their action. Therefore, the insanity plea is crucial to the idea of justice that America holds so true to its
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