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Old 05-16-2003, 08:54 AM   #1
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Rethinking Mental Illness & The Crimminal Justice System

I preface this post with two comments. 1. I don't have all my reading material here at my apartment, so I might be *slightly* vague with my info and 2. Hate to post and run, but that's what I'm gonna do...

Anyway.

I was watching the boston news last night, and saw that a woman driving recklessly with her kids in the vehicle and then crashed is going to claim that she sufferes from Post-Partum Depression. It some brief interviews with lawyers, and a review of the Andrea Yates case, they basically said that there is little hope that this defense will work.

The evidence that showed that Andrea Yates was mentally ill was overwhelming, and she lost her case.

It is estimated that more that 50% of the homeless, and 50% of the prison population suffer from severe and chronic mental illness, often the painfully debilitating Schizophrenia. Which, with proper care and medication, can be treated fairly well now.

The crimminal justice system defines "innocent by reason of insanity" as: A person's inability to tell right from wrong when the crime takes place.

This logic is faulty, as anyone in the mental health field knows. Whether a person knows right or wrong is not the issue. I've seen Schizophrenics who know that they are having "bad thoughts". Yet they still act on these thoughts. Why? Because there is a disconnect between different areas of the mind. It's not a matter of knowing right from wrong, good from bad, but being able to process that information and act accordingly. So what results is many very mentally ill people being sent to jail instead of treatment.

What we need, in my opinion, is a new verdict system.

Guilty by reason of Insanity: The person committed the crime while suffering from a mental illness. Evidence shows that the illness played a part in the casue for the individuals actions. Thus, the person shall be committed to a Psychiatric hospital, with restrictions to their contact with society, until such time as they are deemed mentally stable. In cases of severe and chronic mental illness, their stay in the hospital should equall what their sentance would be for a "sane" person going to jail. For less severe and "non-chronic" illnesses, after they are deemed mentally stable, they should be transferred to prison to serve their sentances (I have reservations about sending anyone to prison because the conditions are so severe that it actually *causes* people to lose their minds while they are there. I have read case studies of patients who suffer from PTSD because of experiences while they were serving time in jail.

Oops, gotta run. I'll continue this later.
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Old 05-19-2003, 10:35 PM   #2
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My opinion is that if someone is sane enough to live in society they should obey the law of the land. If a retard person kills another person, they should be given the same punishment as an Oxford scholar. The fear I have is someone using insanity or mental illness as an excuse to get away with murder.

The same goes for children. How many children actually think it's okay to kill someone? If they don't know by the age of 6, they are either A) Mentally retarded, or B) Lying their asses off. Murder is wrong in every civilization on earth, right? Why should we tolerate it under any circumstances?
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Old 05-20-2003, 12:32 AM   #3
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Re: Rethinking Mental Illness & The Crimminal Justice System

Quote:
Originally posted by popkidu2

I was watching the boston news last night, and saw that a woman driving recklessly with her kids in the vehicle and then crashed is going to claim that she sufferes from Post-Partum Depression. It some brief interviews with lawyers, and a review of the Andrea Yates case, they basically said that there is little hope that this defense will work.

The evidence that showed that Andrea Yates was mentally ill was overwhelming, and she lost her case.
It's interesting that the two cases you cite are women suffering from ailments that are uniquely female. Let's ask this question: Did the fathers of these women's children know or, to be charitable, did they understand, the depth of the problem? If so, where were they? If not, why not?

And Dano, it's not quite as black and white as you'd like it to be. Many of the kinds of people popkid's talking about aren't sane enough to be living in society. That's why they're having the immense problems they're having.
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Old 05-20-2003, 12:33 AM   #4
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Oh, and Dano, mental retardation is not the same as mental illness. Not even close.
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Old 05-20-2003, 07:15 AM   #5
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Martha, you're starting to sound like my ex-girlfriend . LOL....I know there's a difference between mental illness and retardation. However, if you're crazy enough to go through with a murderer and still live in a free society, you should pay the ultimate price (whatever that may be).

The law is the law, and should be applied equally.
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Old 05-28-2003, 06:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Danospano
Martha, you're starting to sound like my ex-girlfriend . LOL....I know there's a difference between mental illness and retardation. However, if you're crazy enough to go through with a murderer and still live in a free society, you should pay the ultimate price (whatever that may be).

The law is the law, and should be applied equally.
It is interesting that you say that if a person is crazy enough to commit a murder, and live in society, then they should face the law.

It may surprise you, and others, to know that being mentally ill does not mean that you are incompacitated all of the time. Ever meet a schizophrenic? Except for the most severe chronics, their symptoms come and go in cycles. Many who suffer from a mental illness have certain areas of their lives that are affected, and others that are not. Thus, a sociopath may lack the empathy or interpersonal skills and value system to stop them from committing murder, but they can still rent an apartment, go shopping, etc. Looking at them you might not know what is wrong with them. But the fact is that someone like that cannot understand the basic laws that govern our society. They are lost in an internal world of fantasy and dellusions.

I've seen children who can be wonderful individuals one moment, and so completely out of their heads that it takes more than one strong adult to subdue them; all caused by mental illness. Should a child be sent to jail if they commit a crime in this state?

These aren't easy questions. I'm not even sure what, if any, the answers are on this topic. But the one thing that I do know is that there seems to be a serious lack of empathy and understanding for people who are mentally ill.
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Old 05-28-2003, 06:51 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by popkidu2
But the one thing that I do know is that there seems to be a serious lack of empathy and understanding for people who are mentally ill.
I agree. I have a friend who has bipolar disorder and the way some of her friends and even her own family treat her is shocking. I don't know if it comes from a complete lack of understanding of mental illnesses, or whether it's just that people are selfish and don't want to deal with a person who might need a little more sensitivity or a little more time than your average person, but it's just horrible.

People need to remember that one in four people suffer from some sort of mental illness during their life - it shouldn't be something which is kept secret and made into something shameful. It should be something people are able to discuss with those around them, just as they'd be able to explain if they had a physical illness like asthma or diabetes.

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