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by: Amy Turk

Insanity PSYCH-30111

Amy Turk

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About this Document

Full week of notes for chapter on Insanity in Forensic Psychology
Forensic Psychology
Dr. Anthony Tarescavage
Class Notes
Insane, Insanity, Forensic, Psychology, Lecture, powerpoint
25 ?




Popular in Forensic Psychology

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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Amy Turk on Wednesday April 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSYCH-30111 at Kent State University taught by Dr. Anthony Tarescavage in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Forensic Psychology in Psychlogy at Kent State University.


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Date Created: 04/13/16
INSANITY ● Mental illness must be present ● Criminal cases ● Not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) = legal plea ○ Requires that the defendant admits to the crime ● A legal compromise to one of society’s moral dilemmas ○ Society believes criminals should be punished ○ Society also believes it’s inappropriate to punish someone who does not know what they’re doing and/or can’t control their behavior ● The first standard was the Wild Beast test (1724) M’Naghten’s Standards ● Must meet both… ○ Severe mental disease or defect ○ Either did not know the nature and quality of act or did not know it was wrong ● Severe mental disease ○ Psychotic disorders ○ Bipolar disorders ● Severe mental defect ○ Dementia ○ Traumatic brain injury ○ Intellectual disability ● Criticized for being too conservative ● Used in 26 states, including Ohio ● Most commonly used standard Durham (AKA Product Rule) Standards ● The crime must be the offspring or product of mental disease ● Two requirements ○ Presence of a mental disease ○ The crime was the product of disease ● Application to cases is complicated ● Only New Hampshire ● Designed to be simple and give experts as much flexibility as possible ○ This leads to disagreements on how to apply the standard ○ Also increases the chances of experts providing ultimate issue testimony American Law Institute (ALI) Rule ● The ALI = group of lawyers who draft proposed laws and suggest legal reforms but do not have any legal authority to make these changes ○ In 1962, they sought to reform insanity law given the criticisms of Durham product rule ● According to ALI, a person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time he was suffering a mental disease or defect… lacks the capacity to either appreciate the wrongfulness or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law ● Expands the M’Naghten standard (which focuses only on KNOWING) by allowing the role of emotion to substantially diminish one’s appreciation of wrongfulness ● Similar to M’Naghten but more liberal ● Still a more conservative standard than the product rule ● All federal courts and many state courts use this standard Insanity Reform Act ● 1984 ● The assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan led to a reform when John Hinkley was acquitted as NGRI ○ Shifted burden of proof to defendant for federal cases ○ Subsequently some states shifted the burden of proof Guilty but Mentally Ill ● 20 states have an additional verdict ● GBMI ● Most of the states added the verdict shortly after the Hinkley assassination attempt ● This does not replace a plea of NGRI… it is just one more possible verdict ● In order to be found GBMI… ○ Be guilty of the offense ○ Be mentally ill at the time of offense ○ Not be mentally insane at the time of offense ● A middle ground ● The person should receive treatment before beginning their sentence in prison (or in prison) ● Has been criticized because it allows juries and judges to avoid confronting the issue of insanity ● In some states the supervision of GBMI is stricter than a traditional guilty verdict ● Not all states have an insanity plea ● Montana abolished the insanity defense in 1979, Idaho in 1982, Utah in 1983, and Kansas in 1996 ● It’s not clear if this has had a positive or negative effect on the criminal justice system in these areas ● These states may find alternative means to deal with cases that would meet NGRI standards in other states Do standards actually effect acquittal rates? ● Probably not ● Jurors fall back on their own misconceptions of what insanity means, despite the jury instructions ○ Insanity standards are complicated ● When this plea is available, there are less NGRI verdicts AND less guilty verdicts Public Beliefs vs Facts ● Public tends to grossly over-estimate how frequently the defense is successfully used and under-estimate the consequences of those found NGRI ● How often is the insanity defense used? ○ Public belief = 37% of cases ○ Fact = 1% ● How often are those using the defense acquitted? ○ PB = 44% ○ Fact = 26% ● What percentage of insanity cases are freed? ○ PB = 26% ○ Fact = 15% ■ 12% have conditional release ■ 3% ordered to do outpatient treatment ■ 1% are released “scot-free” ■ The other 85% are sent to mental hospitals indefinitely ● How long are insanity acquittals confined? ○ PB = 22 months ○ Fact = 33 months ■ 76 months for murder Other Common Misconceptions ● Most insanity acquittals are charged with murder ● Insanity acquittals end up getting away with their crime without serving enough time ○ On average they’re institutionalized for as long or longer than if they had been convicted of crime ● Insanity acquittals are especially dangerous after they are released ○ Re-offending rates are very similar to people leaving prisons Evaluations of Insanity ● NGRI evaluations are one of the most difficult assessments in forensic psychology ○ Legal standards vary across states and are often unclear ○ Have to determine insanity at the time of the offense, which may have been several months or even years beforehand ■ Need to rely more on third-party info ○ No universally accepted interviews or psychological tests ● Typically include interviews, psychological testing, and a review of records ● Borum & Grisso (1996) survey identified central elements of these evaluations ○ Psychiatric history ○ Current mental status ○ Formal mental status exam ○ Any psychotropic medication ○ Psychological testing ○ Mental health records ○ Police info ○ Prior diagnosis ○ Any alcohol or substance use ○ Defendant’s description of the offense Research Findings of Expert Decision Making ● Vary based on legal standards ● Experts can be biased, as their opinions tend to be more favorable to the side that retained them ● Judges/juries tend to agree with expert opinions ○ Agreement rates tend to be upwards of 90% ○ “Battle of the experts” is not the norm ● Experts rarely use instruments specifically designed to assess insanity ● Mental state at the time of the offense screening evaluation (MSE) ○ Semi-structured measure to assess issues related to criminal responsibility ■ Insanity Malingering ● Threat to malingering appears significant given the stakes in insanity cases ● Lack of evidence to suggest rates are higher than other forensic areas ● Many measures exist for the assessment of malingering in these cases ○ Some say that failure to use a standard measure does not fulfill Daubert criteria Other Issues of Criminal Responsibility ● Automatism = some criminal acts may occur involuntarily ● Diminished capacity = testimony regarding mental status at the time of the crime without claiming insanity ● Voluntary intoxication = can’t be the basis for insanity but can be a basis for insufficient mens rea


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