Insanity Defense

What it is: A defense for criminals in trials arguing that their state of mind is not sane, and their actions reflect that. Due to mental illness, they should not be held accountable to the same standards as regular sane beings.

Viewpoints: One) The criminal should not be held accountable for their actions. Reasons for this include that they might not be fully aware of their actions, and if they are aware, they might not know that it is a “bad” thing, or the neurological synapses in their brain do not function like they should causing them to be excessive in behavior. Some people refer to the criminal as lacking the appreciation to what they did.

       Two) This is not a thing/there are variants of mental illness. Reasons these two viewpoints exist are because the victim believes even though the person might be mentally ill, they are still guilty. Some believe that people use this excuse too excessively. And some people think that the person did it, they should receive punishment for their actions.

Real life example: There were two men. William Freeman and Jack Furman. Jack Furman had stole a horse but blamed Freeman. Through a long court case of back and forth, Freeman was finally sentenced to five years in prison. Freeman spent his time, but got beat. He even got hit on the head by a guard. People said when he got out, he was slow, not his normal self, and had an eerie constant smile.

Shortly after he got out he murdered a family, and was taken to jail again. The argument for Freeman’s case was that he was not in the same mind as he was before incarceration the first time. There was a lot of deliberation, but the jury thought Freeman’s slow behavior and unemotional state was due to him being African American. In the end, Freeman died, and died from brain deterioration.

Questions: I wonder, how much research is there on mental illness?

Why can any defendant use this type of defense? It makes me question it because in a study less than one percent of cases using this plea are successful, what would happen if this argument was only used when the defendant was proven insane?