Criminal Insanity
131K - views

Criminal Insanity

How do you determine if someone is criminally insane?. Insanity defense is the defense that the defendant is not responsible for their actions during an episode of mental illness. (Very Brief) History of The Insanity Defense.

Download Presentation

Criminal Insanity

Download Presentation - The PPT/PDF document "Criminal Insanity" is the property of its rightful owner. Permission is granted to download and print the materials on this web site for personal, non-commercial use only, and to display it on your personal computer provided you do not modify the materials and that you retain all copyright notices contained in the materials. By downloading content from our website, you accept the terms of this agreement.

Presentation on theme: "Criminal Insanity"— Presentation transcript:


Criminal Insanity


How do you determine if someone is criminally insane?

Insanity defense is the defense that the defendant is not responsible for their actions during an episode of mental illness


(Very Brief) History of The Insanity Defense

Insanity as a concept has existed since the ancient Greeks and Romans

In colonial America a delusional woman named Dorothy


was hanged in 1638 for murdering her daughter, there was no distinction between insanity and criminal behavior in America yet

Criminal Lunatics Act 1800 mandated that criminals (in England) deemed insane at the time of their crime remain detained for as long as those in power deemed fit


rules of 1843 were a similar idea

Ford V. Wainwright 1986 the US Supreme Court upheld the decision that the insane cannot be executed

Controversy? You bet. Mainly lies in the philosophical differences folks have surrounding insanity.


The Insanity Defense

What are the legal standards for insanity?


state has

its own statute setting out the standard for determining whether a defendant was legally insane, and therefore not responsible, at the time his crime was committed




At the time the act was committed the defendant was laboring under a disease of the mind that made it so they did not know what they were doing was wrong (the “right/wrong” test)


states -- Montana, Idaho, and Utah -- do not allow the insanity defense at all.


What happens to these folks?

What happens to a mentally ill defendant who is acquitted of a violent crime?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, studies show that defendants acquitted by reason of insanity are

likely to spend as much or more time confined in a psychiatric institution as they would have if convicted and sentenced to jail or prison for the same crime

. One study determined insanity defense


frequently spend

twice as much time

institutionalized as defendants convicted of a similar offense spend in correctional


Commitment and release procedures vary from state to state, case to case. The hospital is generally in charge of a patient’s release

(much like in the case of




Andrea Yates

As a table group, you must decide:Do you agree or disagree with the 40 year sentence without parole that Yates was given? Why or why not?


Literary Connection - Medea

In Greek mythology Medea is a sorceress who kills her own children to avenge the betrayal of her husband Jason when he leaves her for another woman


Tortorici Case

You have 10 minutes to read the excerpt from either the DEFENSE or the PROSECUTION of the Tortorici case.You will then pow-wow with your partner for 2 minutes, comparing notes about the important points of the caseYou then have 10 minutes to debate the guilt of Tortorici. Your table group must come to a conclusion about the guilt of Tortorici and provide evidence why!




, Hinckley developed an obsession with the movie Taxi Driver, in which Jodie Foster stars as a child prostitute and Robert


plays Travis


, who plots to assassinate the presidential candidate in the film.

He grew obsessed with Jodie Foster, began stalking her


he decided to attempt an assassination on President Ronald Reagan. As the president left the Hilton Hotel, he shot six times at Reagan, wounding a few other people in the process. One of the bullets hit the president in the chest, but he survived the attempt.


defense team pled for insanity defense and succeeded, he was acquitted of all of his 13 charges of assault, murder and weapon counts



Public Reaction

Due to the high profile of the case,

the public perceived the insanity defense as a loophole in the legal system

which allowed a clearly guilty criminal to dodge incarceration. The controversy laid in the fact that prior to the assassination attempt, the insanity defense was only used in 2 percent of the felony cases and in those cases failed over 75 percent of the time. Nonetheless, most states were pressured to reenact reforms of legislation regarding the use of the insanity defense


Other infamous insanity trials





Sex, cannibalism, necrophilia, dismemberment

Showed symptoms of social withdrawal since childhood

Collected dead animals, would then dissect, dissolve, or mutilate them in various ways

Committed his first murder in 1978, bludgeoning to death a hitchhiker named Steven Hicks because “the guy wanted to leave and I didn’t want him to”

Committed 18 murders, stored their bodies in vats

Kept trophies such as human skulls and genitalia in his closet, save the biceps and human heart in in the freezer for later consumption

(Katy Perry?? “She eats your heart out. Like Jeffrey




plead not guilty by reason of insanity





plea was rejected and he was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences in prison

The case was seen by many as the death of the insanity plea

Many contended that if a deranged criminal like


is rejected on the insanity plea, then no other criminal would qualify for the defense

Why do you think it is so hard to prove criminal insanity?

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?


What is the deal with the American obsession with serial killers?