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ATTACKS ON THE INSANITY DEFENSE The insanity defense refers to that branch of the concept of insanity which defines the extent to which men accused of crimes may be relieved of criminal responsibility by virtue of mental disease The terms of such a defense are to be found in the instructions presented by the trial judge to the jury at the close of a case These instructions can be drawn from any of several rules used in the determination of mental illness The final determination of mental illness rests solely on the jury who uses information drawn from the testimony of expert witnesses usually professionals in the field of psychology The net result of such a determination places an individual accordingly be it placement in a mental facility incarceration or outright release Due to these aforementioned factors there are several problems raised by the existence of the insanity defense Problems such as the actual possibility of determining mental illness justifiable placement of judged mentally ill offenders and the overall usefulness of such a defense In all I believe that these problems as well as others which will be mentioned later lead us to the conclusion that the insanity defense is useless and should be abolished entirely Insanity is a legal not a medical definition Therefore mental illness and insanity are not synonymous only some mental illness constitutes insanity Insanity however includes not only mental illness but also mental deficiencies Due to this there are problems in exactly how to apply a medical theory to a legal matter Herman 1983128 The legal concepts of mental illness and insanity raise questions in a conflict between what are termed legalistic criminology and scientific criminology mens rea punishment v treatment responsibility and prisons v hospitals This debate seesaws to and fro amidst a grey area between law and science The major difficulty with a theory such as mental illness is that it is just that a theory
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