Critics Of The Insanity Defense

1956 Words 8 Pages
Humans, being the complex creatures that they are, are fully capable of making cognizant, rational, intentional decisions. However, in some instances, a person is unable to form or control his or her own thoughts because he or she suffers from a mental illness. Moreover, in today’s pop culture, persons with mental illnesses are portrayed as villainous. The mentally ill are grouped into a sector of evil or pity. The insanity defense challenges the jury’s empathy for the defendant, and, as much as the insanity defense is portrayed in film, the plea is not as common as one might think. Furthermore, the insanity defense is not a method of escaping justice, but instead, the plea is a method of ensuring the mentally ill are commensurately penalized. …show more content…
The defense allows those who are mentally unstable to be disciplined in an apposite manner. Critics of the insanity defense may find the acquittal of mentally unstable defendants detrimental to American society and safety. However, the plea attempts to provide a commensurate punishment to that of a person’s mental state. If a person is mentally ill or “insane,” then he or she was not in the requisite state of mind at the time of the crime; therefore he or she did not willingly commit the offense; hence, his or her actions cannot be held …show more content…
If a person commits a crime, he or she is responsible for repaying a penance to society by serving a sentence. Said person would have to have been fully aware of his or her actions in order to accept-unwillingly, in most cases- his or her punishment. The ability to think and act freely, and control one’s own thoughts is expected of a “normal” member of society; however, when one is unable to conform his or her behavior to emulate that of the rest of society’s, the insanity defense is invoked (Weiner 5). The distinction between intentional crime and unintentional crime is also crucial in understanding the importance of the insanity defense. Even in ancient times, societies understood that those who did not form a mens rea, a guilty mind, could not be held accountable for their actions. Philosophers such as Plato understood that a person with free-will, mental free-will included, was responsible for the good and evil in his or her life; however, one without (mental) free-will cannot be bound to his or her actions, for the actions were committed without knowledge (Weiner 6). The insanity defense challenges: intentional or

Related Documents