Today on the Twitters I entered into a discussion on Criminal Insanity / Mentally Not Responsible pleas. Violent crime is horrible and too often it's victims are women or children and in most cases the person who commits these heinous crimes are capable of knowing right from wrong. They can determine that what they have done is wrong. In fewer cases this is not true, the person who commits a violent act upon another person is unaware or cannot intellectually or emotionally connect that what they have done is wrong.
Extreme delusions mixed with, paranoia and add in hearing voices telling you to do things you would not normally do cannot be seen as "A person with a little depression who gets a get out jail free card" One that is insulting to those of us who live with Mental Illness every day and do not commit crimes and it is unfair to someone who is very very ill and does commit a crime.
The Insanity plea is the and rightfully so the hardest plea in the legal system to prove and fail more than it works. Once someone is found no responsible because of mental illness, they are remanded to a forensic psych hospital ( a mental hospital for criminals ) for a undetermined set of time. Some people eventually get released. One of the most famous modern criminally insane cases is the John Hinckley Jr. case he shot president Reagan and is still in hospital though he can visit his mother 6 days at a time.
People want to see someone pay for a crime it is not wrong to seek justice, but sometimes justice does not come in a pretty little box for us to enjoy. Sometimes justice is someone who is ill and not safe for society to spend their life in a secure hospital setting. The Mentally Ill in prisons are continued to be victimized by other inmates and often fall victim to crimes worse than the ones they commit. I steer away from the Revenge model of justice and punishment, it for one is not a healthy way to think, but it is not a deterrent to violent crimes . People who want to kill another human being rarely thinks, "Hmm will i get life or the chair? maybe a hospital? " No they think about killing someone, and sometimes it is a illness that drives them to commit these crimes.
Are they innocent , maybe not but should they if not responsible and ill not get treatment? It is not a easy discussion to have but if talking about mental health and stigma, crime, punishment has to be discussed. Also we cannot lump everyone into the same straight jacket. I have Bipolar disorder but I am not violent and I know right from wrong. But some people do not and because of this should not go to prison.
Also here in Canada someone who commits a murder will probably get paroled years before a person in a forensic hospital gets released. So for some people they think prison life is different from forensic hospital life not really both are locked up not allowed to go free. prisoners can work in prison patients in forensic hospital cannot. prisoners can get personal TV, fridges, and patients cannot. Life for the forensic prisoner is rough and not a holiday. It takes a peaceful heart to seek punishment and not vengeance, to see humane treatment and not warehousing.