Should insanity (temporary?) be a legitimate route to a lesser legal penalty for a crime?

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0 Responses to Should insanity (temporary?) be a legitimate route to a lesser legal penalty for a crime?

  1. Jon Welborn says:

    Clarify “temporary insanity.”

  2. Brad Roehrenbeck says:

    Here’s some legal mumbo-jumbo to give some context to the discussion:

    The legal definition of insanity: In North Carolina, the test for insanity is: is whether the defendant, at the time of the alleged offense, was laboring under such a defect of reason, from disease or deficiency of the mind, as to be incapable of knowing the nature and quality of the act or, if he did know this, whether he was, by reason of such defect of reason, incapable of distinguishing between right and wrong in relation to that act. State v. Jones, 293 N.C. 413, 425 (1977). So there are 2 key components: (1) disease or defect of mind and (2) a specific effect of the disease on the person. That specific effect must be one of these two things: (1) no knowledge of the nature and quality of the act or (2) inability to tell right from wrong.

    A defendant found not guilty by reason of insanity is sentenced immediately to a State mental health facility. He can only be released if a court finds that he is no longer a danger to others.

  3. Brad Roehrenbeck says:

    Also, to really discuss this, you need to think about why we punish people to consider whether and when we might punish people differently. Here are the common theories of punishment (in no specific order):

    (1) retribution (paying back a debt owed to society – some liken it to revenge);
    (2) rehabilitation (aimed at making a ‘bad’ person ‘good’);
    (3) specific deterrence (deterring the criminal from commiting the crime again in the future);
    (4) general deterrence (deterring other people in society from commiting the crime);
    (5) incapacitation (the idea that you can’t commit crimes out in society if you are not out in society).

    I’ll comment later when I have more time.

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