Insanity and Defenses of Mentally Sick Defendants

There are three policy options available when a capitally sentenced inmate becomes insane. The first option is Don’t Medicate, Don’t Execute. This policy state, should the inmate decline treatment, the state will coincide with his desire, stop the medication, and delay the encumbrance of the sentence if he becomes unfit. The second policy option is Medicate and Execute, which states, an inmate would be treated persuasively if required. Medicate, Don’t Execute is the third policy option which says that the state would remit the death sentence and provide treatment with the inmate’s consent.

The preceding against Don’t Medicate, Don.t Execute is assumed on the morality of the death sentence. Medicate, Don.t Execute option circumvent the primary disadvantage of Don’t Medicate, Don’t Execute by stimulating medical care by abandoning death sentence. Under option three, regardless of the level of the crime. The sanction should be renounced because of the deterioration of the inmate. The third option would be legitimatized if capital punishment were unethical. In-state v. Perry, the Supreme Court held that it is cruel and unusual to treat a prisoner to execute him forcibly. The assumptions underlying this argument are that forcible medication is both punitive and degrading. Justice Dennis held that forcing a psychotic prisoner to take medication that controls his prodromal is more scathing. Yet Dennis accepts that left untreated, and the prisoner days will be delusional, manic behavior, series of hallucination, and incoherent speech; under these situations, withdrawing treatment seems far crueler.

Criminal appellants’ insanity was discounted in the past and penalized them like sane criminals. However, recently people tend to dismiss their criminality and restrain them no more than insane men (Larkin & Campari, 2020). In the past, individuals who despised their behavior were referred to as immoral or wicked, but currently, such people are called psychotic, insane, crazy, or neurotic. Insane stands for disliked or disapproved. Psychiatric diagnoses are mostly infected with moral ideas and judgment; dissident psychiatrists have rejected the notion of mental disease as inherently tainted with nonmedical, ethical decisions. Professor Szasz suspect held that invented mental illness for the convenience of psychiatrists.

Mental illnesses should be legally relevant if it demonstrably interferes with the ability of an individual to control his behaviors to avoid legal liabilities (Pope & Vasquez, 2016). When not knowing the nature of their behavior to the usual degree or realizing that their behaviors are wrong or unable to control them, individuals may not be held responsible. However, the public is supposed to protect itself from such people. Insanity is one of the psychological conditions in which persons are not held accountable for their actions. Some of the insanity conditions include convulsion, blackout, hypnotic states, and somnambulism.

Concerning the insanity defense, Ernest Van Den Haag supports the two primary moral principles underlying the defense. Once the primary principles underlying the defense are supported, the significant issue arises: what kind of individuals who commits an offense cannot be held responsible for their criminal activities, and how should society handle such persons. Van den Haag suggests that, when found not guilty by reasons of insanity, the defendant must be subjected to mental treatment. Van den Haag also held that such individuals should be sentenced to a fixed sentence, and if such individuals recover from their insanity, they should serve the remainder of their sentence in prison. Thus individuals who are unable to control their actions deserve psychiatric treatment and hospitalization.




Deer, S. (2015). The beginning and end of rape: Confronting sexual violence in Native America. U of Minnesota Press.

Larkin Jr, P. J., & Canaparo, G. (2020). Are criminals bad or mad: Premeditated murder, mental illness, and Kahler v. Kansas. Harv. JL & Pub. Pol’y, 43, 85.

Pope, K. S., & Vasquez, M. J. (2016). Ethics in psychotherapy and counseling: A practical guide. John Wiley & Sons.

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