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Instructions for Insanity Defense College Essay Examples

Title: Insanity Defense and the Unabomber Trial

Total Pages: 2 Words: 704 Bibliography: 0 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: Directons: Please read the article below
Questions: What are your thoughts about the "insanity plea"?
Is there a place for it? Should it continue to be allowed in court? Support your position with evidence, besides just having an opinion about it.

The The Insanity Defense and the Unabomber Trial
by Barbara R. Sarason, University of Washington;
? 1998 Peregrine Publishers, Inc., All Rights Reserved

For weeks, jury selection was underway in the sensational trial of Theodore Kaczynski, accused of carrying out a string of bombings over a period of 18 years that killed 3 people and wounded 23 others. Kaczynski's defense lawyers contend that the Unabomber suspect is affected by paranoid schizophrenia. They argue that this "mental defect" leaves him incapable of forming the intent necessary to be held criminally responsible for his alleged crimes--specifically the four bombings being examined in this first trial. His defense team claims that this mental disorder makes it impossible for Kaczynski to understand his actions or to resist his impulses to harm those who, by his paranoid thinking, are responsible for "great evil." Even if the prosecution convinces the jury he committed the bombings, they say, he should nevertheless be acquitted of the crime or at least spared execution. Kaczynski has insisted that he is not mentally ill and has refused to be examined by court psychiatrists. The defense argues that his illness underlies this insistence and indeed controls his whole existence, rendering him powerless to behave independently. By contrast, prosecutors maintain that Kaczynski's detailed plans and voluminous writings reveal that he fully intended to cause harm with the mail bombs he allegedly built and sent.

This cases hinges on the insanity defense, but what exactly is it? "Insanity" refers to a person's state of mind at the time he or she carried out an act, not to whether the person could later understand the criminal charges and participate in a cogent defense against them. Insanity, in other words, is a legal, not a medical term. The majority of people who have a diagnosed mental illness would not be considered insane under the current legal tests for insanity. During a history of more than a century and a half, the courts have defined the insanity defense in various ways. The 1843 M'Naughten rule used the criteria of knowing right from wrong. The later Dunham rule stresses "irresistible impulse," meaning that the person has no control over his or her behavior by reason of insanity. A combination of those ideas is the current standard.

Opposition to the use of the insanity defense mounted after John Hinkley, in an attempt to gain the attentions of film star Jodie Foster, tried to assassinate former president Ronald Reagan and was subsequently acquitted "by reason of insanity." Some states eliminated the defense altogether or tightened the criteria for it. Opponents of this defense argue that people should always be held responsible for their actions. David Gelernter, for example, one of the Unabomber's victims, wrote a memoir ( 2) in which he questions society's current tolerant values in evaluating behavior rather than holding people responsible for personal actions. He cites as an example of this "distortion of values" People magazine's choice of the Unabomber as one of the most fascinating people of 1996.

In a contrasting view, forensic psychologist Barbara Kirwin argues that the "state of mind" insanity defense is critical (4). She believes the way it is currently administered, however, renders it almost useless. Kirwin is a strong advocate for the mentally ill, but in trials, she usually appears for the prosecution and focuses on separating the truly insane from malingerers. She believes the current system, which features in-court battles between expert witnesses for the benefit of juries, should be replaced by a judge's assignment of certified professionals to evaluate defendants outside of court and file reports.

Most people believe that the insanity defense is used frequently and helps criminals "beat the rap" for their crimes. In fact, defense attorneys use it in only about 1 percent of felony cases and succeed with it only about one-sixth of the time. Because the insanity defense is usually perceived as an admission of guilt, the defendant usually receives a longer-than-normal sentence if the jury rejects the plea of innocence by reason of insanity and finds him or her deliberately guilty of the crime. Even those declared legally insane and not responsible for their crimes are usually confined to psychiatric hospitals and are likely to remain there longer than the prison sentence for an equivalent crime


Cirincione, C. (1996). Revisiting the insanity defense: Contested or consensus? Bulletin of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 24, 165-176.
Gelernter, D. Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997.
Glaberson, W. Unabomb trial may prove landmark on illness plea: Does insanity end responsibility for crime? New York Times, Dec. 9, 1997, p. A14.
Kirwin, B. R. The Mad, the Bad, and the Innocent: The Criminal Mind on Trial. Boston: Little, Brown, 1997.
Neumann, C. S., Walker, E. F., Weinstein, J, & Cutshaw, C. (1996). Psychotic patients' awareness of mental illness: Implications for legal defense proceedings. Journal of Psychiatry and Law, 24, 421-442.
The Insanity Defense. American Psychiatric Association. 1997. This web site provides answers to common questions about the insanity defense and also corrects frequent misconceptions concerning it. (10 Dec. 1997)
History of Insanity. A brief summary of the insanity defense with relevant ideas ranging from the ancient Egyptians to modern times. (10 Dec 1997)
New York Times on the web. This site provides both up-to-date articles about the Unabomber trial and the ability to search for past articles on the insanity defense, including book reviews. Select "Table Of Contents," hit "Search the Site" (under "Daily Features") then enter "Insanity Defense." (10 Dec. 1997)

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Texas Insanity Defense M Naghten's Rule

Total Pages: 5 Words: 1637 Sources: 5 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: Why is the concept of “insanity” a legal and not a medical term? Examine the insanity defense in your state and write a memorandum on how the insanity defense should be changed in your state. Include in your discussion the problems and issues involved with the present defense and how the proposed changes will eliminate or reduce those problems and issues.

Paper needs to include:

1. Every paper must be in APA format
a. Formatted correctly
b. In APA everything is double spaced.

2. Abstract

3. An introduction of the problem or question at hand (what your paper is about)

4. Literature review
a. What experts think or have said about the subject ( literature reviews)
b. DO NOT use the same author twice in your paper. There are many experts that you can use. Do some research.
c. It is important to leave yourself out of any research paper. Keep yourself out of the paper until the conclusion. The conclusion is the only place where it is proper to voice your thoughts or opinions. Do not use “I”. Only use this researcher feels, this researcher thinks etc…..
d. Clear concise writing
e. Do not make paragraphs too long, 5 to 6 sentences max
f. Watch your grammar and spelling. My suggestion let someone read your work before you turn it in. Also read aloud that may help you clear up many grammatical mistakes.
g. Indent paragraphs (except abstract)
h. Be non ??"judgmental, or objective in the content of your paper
i. Proper citing of an author ( see below)

5. A conclusion
a. What your final thoughts were on the subject or what the experts might have said.
b. Start out the last paragraph with: In conclusion………………………

6. The reference page is always on a separate page.
a. Formatted correctly

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Forensic Psychology

Total Pages: 5 Words: 1476 References: 3 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: This term paper is based on the case of Andrea Yates. She is a woman in Texas who killed her 5 children.

1. Describe the basic elements of the case - specifically what she did, including the salient elements that were relevant to the insanity defense (relevant both for and against the defense).

2. Summarize the arguments made by each side regarding the insanity defense - that is, explain what the main points made by each side were regarding whether she was insane or not at the time.

3. Give your analysis of the case. Based on what you have learned about the insanity defense from the readings, the lecture, and the discussion, give your opinion about which argument was more persuasive. Be sure to articulate your rationale - explaining the basis for your opinion. Also, explain why you think there was a different outcome at the second trial.

If possible, include citations from handbook of psychology volume 11 Forensic Psychology by Alan M. Goldstein.

Excerpt From Essay:

Essay Instructions: Written Assignment: Civil Commitment and the Mentally Ill
Write a 2 - 3 page paper on the following issues related to civil commitment of mentally ill individuals:

?How often is the insanity defense used and how successful is it?
?Identify and discuss the major criticisms of the insanity defense.
?When a mentally ill person is convicted and incarcerated, what are some of the difficulties in providing appropriate psychological treatment for these offenders?
Be sure to support your answers with material from the reading and/or outside research.

?The paper should contain a cover page and a list of references in APA format.
?All internal citation of outside sources plus the listing of all references should also adhere to APA format.
?All text pages should be double-spaced and in 12-point font.

Excerpt From Essay:

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