Should mental illness be an excuse for criminal behavior?

Esperanza Garcia, Editorialist

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The insanity plea is one of the many defenses attorneys can use in a court of law to help the defendant. This issue people with an opinion pretty evenly.  Then there’s a slew of people who don’t know what to think about the issue.  

The insanity plea is where the defendant commits a crime, but is mentally not capable of committing it. In other words, they are not psychologically there when the crime was being committed. Is often called the mental disorder defense.

There have been many cases of this all over America, like Andrea Yates who killed her five children in Texas. Or James Holmes who went into a theater here in Colorado shooting people. The list goes on. 

Instead of going to prison like anyone else would, these people get to walk free. They would actually go to a hospital, a mental hospital to be specific. How can you say going to a mental hospital is “punishment” for what they did.

A mental hospital is no comparison to prison. Unlike people who go to prison for their murders, people with the insanity plea could have a chance to go back into the community. Once they go through therapy, and other psychological help. For example, Yates (who killed her five kids) was found not guilty by reason of insanity. She is going under serious psychosis treatment. Once she becomes sane she could “possibly” reenter society. 

Considering all of that the insanity plea (or defense) should no longer be an excuse for people not to “pay” for the crimes they committed. In my opinion they knew what they were doing was wrong and they deserve to be in prison as long as anyone who would commit the crime. 

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