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Insanity Plea In Court Essay

2265 words - 10 pages

After committing a crime a criminal will sit in a cell and wait for a court date. During this time period the alleged criminals will be consulting with their attorney plotting out what will be said and how they should plea. Most go to court and plead not guilty; few plead guilty, and out of all the court cases only one percent plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Pleading insanity would mean at the time of the defendants actions he or she could not judge wrong from right. The actual term for pleading insane is as stated, “A defense asserted by an accused in a criminal prosecution to avoid liability for the commission of a crime because, at the time of the crime, the person did not appreciate the nature or quality or wrongfulness of the acts (Insanity Defense).” The topic of the insanity plea is not a wide spread concern for many but is still a problem. Some people think it is wrong to send a mentally ill person to a normal prison and others believe if someone commits a crime no matter if they have a disorder they should be sent to the same prison as others and serve the same amount of time. The plea may not be used often but it is still used and needs the issue in the debate needs to be addressed. The insanity plea in today’s society needs to be reformed.
The insanity plea is a compromise between the legal system and society. In society people believe even the mentally ill should take responsibility for their actions, but people also believe the mentally ill should receive treatment for their disorder. This is a big gray area because there is no way to please the people with what is decided. The legal system is in place to protect the people from harm but social norms would say not to penalize insane people as much as someone who has not been diagnosed with a mental illness. It all has to depend on the case presented to the jury along with the evidence, to help decide the punishment of the specific person.
The insanity plea was first established in the court system in the late thirteenth century and known as “complete madness.” In the eighteen century the court system determined the punishment by asking the person on trial whether he or she knew the difference between good and evil, while other courts would ask if the person knew what he or she had done. In this century it was also known as the “wild beast” test. By the nineteenth century insanity was a question of fact and should be determined by the jury (Insanity). The plea of insanity has come a long way since the thirteenth century.
Many people through-out the United States will have different views on the topic of pleading insane. Some people may work with others who have a mental illness and try to understand the person and their illness, as a result some people believe someone with a mental disorder should not belong in a regular prison because the needs of that specific person will be different than most. Other people may have had a tragedy occur in their family, someone was...

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