Paul's Criminal Justice Page

Paul's Justice Blog

 !! INTERNET EXPLORER USERS - IE is blocking a script for a scrolling navigation menu. Allowing the script improves website functionality !!

Home > CJ Ethics > Pt 1 Morality of Law > Insanity Defense | Buy CJ Ethics

Insanity Defense

Insanity Defense information form the American Psychological Association addresses questions including the definitions of “sane” and “insane”, using the defense to escape punishment, length of sentence to mental hospitals, John Hinkley, and variations of the insanity defense in different states.

Dodging the Insanity Defense With Diminished Capacity - online manuscript that covers different options RECOMMENDED

The Insanity Defense: On Being Insane In Sane Places delineates the origins and development of the insanity defense, factors favoring acquittal, malingering, post acquittal procedure, and community risks related to the insanity defense. 

The Insanity Defense: A Closer Look from the Washington Post discusses the evolution and functions of the insanity defense, as well as current controversies. The differences between “not guilty by reason of insanity” and “incompetent to stand trial” are delineated, and famous cases involving the insanity defense are discussed. 

Insanity Defense & The Unabomber Case: Court TV archive or short column from Perspectives: A Mental Health Magazine - Legal Fact And Fiction In The Kaczynski Case

Is the Insanity Plea Allowing Criminals to Avoid Justice? (

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

Mental Disorders of Winnie the Pooh & Friends... 

On the surface it is an innocent world: Christopher Robin, living in a beautiful forest surrounded by his loyal animal friends. Generations of readers of A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh stories have enjoyed these seemingly benign tales. However, perspectives change with time, and it is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists that these are in fact stories of Seriously Troubled Individuals, many of whom meet DSM-IV3 criteria for significant disorders. We have done an exhaustive review of the work and offer our conclusions about the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood in hopes that our observations will help the medical community understand that there is a Dark Underside to this world.

Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne (Canadian Medical Association Journal 12/12/2000)

The table indicates that public perception of the insanity defense exaggerates how frequently it is used, how successful it is both in terms of acquittals and freedom. 


"Public perceptions are that the insanity defense occurs far more commonly than records indicate. In fact, the insanity defense is used in less than 1% of criminal proceedings and is successful in approximately one-quarter of those cases. Furthermore, defendants who are found insane spend as much, or more, time in state custody than their criminally convicted counterparts. The media may foster the notion that criminals get away with feigning mental defect, only to be released and recidivate. However, the insanity plea is actually based on a long-standing legal tradition and is rarely successfully completed. In fact, approximately 70% of insanity acquittals result from agreements between opposing attorneys, in which the prosecution agrees that society would be better served by placing the defendant in treatment, rather than in prison"

-Does the Insanity Defense Have a Legitimate Role? (Psychiatric Times April 2002 Vol. XIX Issue 4)

public perceptions compared with the actual use of the insanity defense

Mental Health & Law

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill page on criminalization of people with mental illness, with pages for their platform about criminal justice issues and legal issues

American Psychological Association Public Information Site

The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University mental health law page gives an overview of legal standards and constitutional precedent.

The The Ultimate Forensic Psychology Database provides links in forensic psychology and psychiatry, behavioral profiling, and other mental health related disciplines.

Miscellaneous Resources

Psychweb Links, information, and resources for students and teachers of psychology.

Articles on Schizophrenia page contains several articles on the topic of schizophrenia and shizophreniform disorders

About Psychoanalysis helps explain the background of this idea. Interested readers can also visit the psychoanalysis links page or the Psychiatric Times list of topics.


Legal System Struggles With Dementia Patients (Washington Post, July 28, 2003; Page A01)

The wrenching problem is becoming more common as the number of seniors -- and those with dementia -- rises: People with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of mental deterioration are increasingly getting entangled with law enforcement. That has police, prosecutors, judges, psychiatric workers and caregivers struggling to balance the humane treatment of a vulnerable but volatile segment of the populace against the need to protect the public.

"It's a problem, and a problem that's only going to grow," said Max B. Rothman, executive director of the Center on Aging at Florida International University in Miami. "As the baby boomers age, it's going to become an even bigger problem."

Echoing a long-running debate over the mentally ill and disabled, the matter also is raising thorny issues about how to determine when people in the throes of slow mental decline are no longer culpable for their actions. The difficult question, said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor, is often, "At what stage of the disease is the individual? Most of these diseases are fairly long-running and go from mild conditions to obviously quite severe conditions."


Up ] [ Insanity Defense ] Social Adversity Defense ] Criminal Law ]

Ethics Overview ] 1: Morality of Law ] 2: What Should Be A Crime ] 3: Police Ethics ] 4: Courts & Lawyers ] 5: Penology & Punishment ] 6: Emerging Issues ] Appendix: Ethical Codes ]

Home ] Up ] Criminal Justice Ethics ] Critical Criminology Journal ] Class, Race, Gender & Crime ] Rich Get Richer ] Classes & EMU Info ] Paul? ] Private Prisons ] Corporate Crime ] Careers & Jobs ] Photo Gallery ]

Search Web Search Search

Support this site

Amazon Hostway

Copyright © 2000 - 2010 Paul Leighton. Permission is freely given to link to these pages or use them for non-commercial purposes, including distribution of printed copies at or below cost. For other uses, please contact the owner