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The insanity plea

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libertygrl
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Posted 07/03/12 - 9:44 PM:
Subject: The insanity plea
I'm thinking I don't really understand the expression "not guilty by reason of insanity". Does being insane alleviate a person of guilt somehow? I can understand how mental illnesses and disabilities could influence the sentencing for a crime, but how are they any less guilty?

Any thoughts?
Zenman
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Posted 07/03/12 - 10:52 PM:

Doesn't make sense to me either.

Now, "guilty by reason of insanity" makes sense. "Not guilty" of course implies that it was someone else who did it, which it wasn't even if you'd committed the crime while completely out of your head. It was still your body that did it, and which should suffer the consequences.

I'm also with you on the sentencing (as far as the aspect of an insanity that's determined to be out of the control of the defendant).

I also believe that it should be the victims or survivors who decide on the sentencing.
Thinker13
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Posted 07/04/12 - 1:32 AM:

Zenman wrote:
Doesn't make sense to me either.

Now, "guilty by reason of insanity" makes sense. "Not guilty" of course implies that it was someone else who did it, which it wasn't even if you'd committed the crime while completely out of your head. It was still your body that did it, and which should suffer the consequences.

I'm also with you on the sentencing (as far as the aspect of an insanity that's determined to be out of the control of the defendant).

I also believe that it should be the victims or survivors who decide on the sentencing.



Welcome on board Zenman. hug
libertygrl
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Posted 07/04/12 - 11:49 AM:

Zenman wrote:
I also believe that it should be the victims or survivors who decide on the sentencing.

Hm, an interesting notion, and I can't say I'm against it completely. My concern with such a system would be when there's such a desperate need to hang someone for the crime that an innocent person can't get a fair trial.
KinNaoko90
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Posted 07/05/12 - 12:33 PM:

lib wrote:
I'm thinking I don't really understand the expression "not guilty by reason of insanity". Does being insane alleviate a person of guilt somehow? I can understand how mental illnesses and disabilities could influence the sentencing for a crime, but how are they any less guilty?

Any thoughts?


As far as this goes, I first must clarify that there are multiple kinds of mental illness and the severity of the illness depends on the individual.

A person such as myself (I have bipolar disorder. My manic episodes take the form of uncontrollable rage at others and my depression takes the form of uncontrollable rage at myself and existence) not only has difficulty controlling their symptoms, but at times can also lose control completely. There have been many times in the past where my body is doing something other than what my mind is telling it to. My mind tends to want to walk away or shut myself up before I physically lose it. My body apparently wants to stay and fight. Sometimes, after I lose it, I have no recollection of what I've done.

This has caused a lot of trouble for my family and myself. I have been hospitalized on a mental health unit too many times to count. Now, I still hold myself accountable for my body's actions, but I would be the first to stand up for others in my situation who do not hold themselves accountable. Why? Because I've been there. I don't want to hold myself accountable either, but society has made such an imprint on me that it's hard not to.

The thing is, even if it was my body that committed the actions, it wasn't my mind. A person's cells are completely replaced every three weeks I believe. A person's mind changes much more gradually. Why punish what is no longer the same body, and at the same time punish the innocent mind with it? So even though I'd consider myself guilty, I wouldn't guilty, just an innocent bystander as my body was doing things I was telling it not to.

I, personally, hate the term "insanity". I believe the verdict for such cases should be "not guilty for reasons beyond their control."

Other mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, can be an even more complicated case. In this kind of case, when the person with schizophrenia is symptomatic, they often act out of what they believe is self preservation. I mean, if you thought someone was going to kill you and your best friend said they were and God was telling you to kill this person before she/he kills you and others, you'd be convinced too. (Never mind that you are under the influence of persecutory delusions, your best friend is a hallucination, and God was merely a auditory hallucination. You didn't know any of this. You truly believed in what you saw and heard.)

In this case, too, there is no truly guilty party. Yes, their bodies committed crimes. Their minds told them to, even. However, they had reason that were logical to them. They truly thought that they were under attack and that God wanted them to survive by any means possible. The threats and danger were real to them.

There are many other kinds of mental illness. The two I listed are only on Axis I of the DSM IV TR. If you go to Axis II, you'll find about ten or more types of personality disorders and mental retardation. Still I do not hold others with mental illnesses accountable for any crimes they may have committed. I know how horrible the feeling of guilt is even when you couldn't have done anything differently. I wouldn't wish that on anyone else... ever.
Thinker13
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Posted 07/05/12 - 1:25 PM:

I was forming an opinion before reading Kin's post. Her post triggered many ideas--one of them--Buddhist/Hindu 'Karma' theory would say that mental illness is karmic take-over from past incarnations. The native is not 'fully conscious' of his deeds---that's why he would not realize things he commits--as a result the illusory world would be more illusory to them. By the time they're done with this extra carry forward of karma--they would become more conscious and then they would start being more responsible for their Karma and start climbing up the ladder to Nirvana/ Moksha.

But it doesn't say that it's 'hard and fast.' No, it's not so because any person who is mentally ill could get rid of cycles of birth and death by attaining liberation in this very incarnation. Even Law seems to support this kind of moral reasoning--that's why people who commit murders in accident, walking in sleeps are not given a sentence as harsh as that given to someone who is free of any serious psychological illness and does it.

Suggesting that they should take full responsibility would mean that you are forcing someone into more difficulty, even when they have more Karma than most to take care of.

This, in a way is not at all conducive to dissolving totality of Karma.

I guess I know where you're coming from: Are you afraid that people who aren't actually ill would use it as a way out of punishments they deserve as shown in many movies and TV?
KinNaoko90
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Posted 07/05/12 - 1:53 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
Are you afraid that people who aren't actually ill would use it as a way out of punishments they deserve as shown in many movies and TV?


Very.

On a side note, it is a sad thing about the stigma in society. Many people consider those who are mentally ill to be dangerous. In fact, it is more likely to find those with mental illness as being in danger rather than causing danger.
libertygrl
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Posted 07/05/12 - 9:45 PM:

I agree, the stigma is horrible. And 'insanity' is one of my least favorite words too. And in response to Thinker's post, one certainly has to wonder how many people have gotten away with murder on the pretense of insanity.

The problem is that when a mentally ill person commits a crime, even while they may not be aware of having done it, nor may they be capable of understanding the emotional consequences on the victim after the fact, the reality is that their body has taken a harmful action from which it is only sensible that the public will want to protect themselves from future harm.

The wording is problematic, though. Because to me, the words "not guilty" simply mean "they didn't do it", right? Maybe there's a disconnect between their mind and body but still, some part them did commit the act. And that's the part that concerns people. Personally, I would like a description like "Guilty for reasons beyond their control", sort of a hybrid of what I'm suggesting with what Kin is suggesting.

On a side note, I'd like to see our justice system move away from retributive punishment and toward more rehabilitative programs or what's now being called "restorative justice". What good is it to punish someone who doesn't understand and who may never be able to do so? Also, what good is it to punish someone who has already been systematically punished, perhaps by abusive parents or peers? And yet we can't just let people wander off freely to commit other crimes. In my opinion, anyone who commits a violent crime should always be held accountable at least to the extent where the general public is reasonably protected from future crimes. That doesn't have to mean punishing them, but given the loss of personal liberty which most often results (eg. being sent to an institution or prison), some people would probably think of it as such.

It's all so very complicated, and Thinker I do think about these questions in karmic terms as well.
Thinker13
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Posted 07/06/12 - 3:19 AM:

lib wrote:

The problem is that when a mentally ill person commits a crime, even while they may not be aware of having done it, nor may they be capable of understanding the emotional consequences on the victim after the fact, the reality is that their body has taken a harmful action from which it is only sensible that the public will want to protect themselves from future harm.


Very well put. 'Rehabilitation Center,' rather than 'prison' is more reasonable a word methinks. Part of why people are able to escape via psychopathy root is--because we don't have enough sensitive instruments to ascertain illness and whether crime really happened because of illness. What I mean is--not only people who are totally free from any mental illness might use these as an execuse, but also persons who are suffering from a type A disease might use it as a pretext for a crime which might occur only in case of Type B Psychosis.


lib wrote:

The wording is problematic, though. Because to me, the words "not guilty" simply mean "they didn't do it", right? Maybe there's a disconnect between their mind and body but still, some part them did commit the act. And that's the part that concerns people. Personally, I would like a description like "Guilty for reasons beyond their control", sort of a hybrid of what I'm suggesting with what Kin is suggesting.


Then reasons are Karmic, but Law doesn't accept theory of Karma because it's not tangible and obvious. Consider this: "Not guilty," in some cases might actually mean that they don't have the 'guilt' of having done this. Guilt and penitence is possible only after certain degree of consciousness and not always. Take protagonist of Memento for example---such a person doesn't actually remember that he has committed any crime. That means he is not having any guilt whatsoever---that doesn't mean that he is dissolving Karma by committing crimes. It might seem like bullshit but his body vehicle is being used in crimes and that means 'Karma' getting registered. It's this 'rupture' between his layers of pysche because of which is not able to feel guilt. He is Buddha-like in that way but totally below the normal level of consciousness. Once he is done with this state he will eventually come to know that he has a lot of Karma to cope with and he will find himself amongst suffering and pain. He would know that it's Karmic only if he wonders why he is subject to this much of pain of suffering without any obvious reason in his sight.

lib wrote:

On a side note, I'd like to see our justice system move away from retributive punishment and toward more rehabilitative programs or what's now being called "restorative justice". What good is it to punish someone who doesn't understand and who may never be able to do so? Also, what good is it to punish someone who has already been systematically punished, perhaps by abusive parents or peers? And yet we can't just let people wander off freely to commit other crimes. In my opinion, anyone who commits a violent crime should always be held accountable at least to the extent where the general public is reasonably protected from future crimes. That doesn't have to mean punishing them, but given the loss of personal liberty which most often results (eg. being sent to an institution or prison), some people would probably think of it as such.

It's all so very complicated, and Thinker I do think about these questions in karmic terms as well.


As you say it "It's all very complicated." Think about Karmic repercussions--if a person is not feeling 'guilty' because of psychosis, who is handling the Karma generated when he commits terrible crimes?

Your points about justice are very valid. 'Libra,' the seventh sign in Astrology represents justice. Saturn, the deity of justice gets exalted in the sign Libra. The justice should be just that--'balance.' The imbalance which causes the suffering and pain should be removed. If there could be system like 'Minority Report,' the balance can be easily restored. If psyches are balanced it would be 'Satyayuga,' utopia without any crimes.
thedoc
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Posted 07/06/12 - 11:05 PM:

I believe the "Insanity Clause" has been eliminated in most places?
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