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In recent times the insanity defense has been prevalent in many high profile legal battles as well as being featured in numerous blockbuster movies In addition it is also the subject matter of countless television talk shows For example Ricki Lake Geraldo Rivera and Jerry Springer have often instigated guests to act out in anger and rage and thus provided the general public with vast misinformation about mental health It seems all too common that the public is inundated with exaggerated diagnoses of mental disorders according to Jeanne Heaton a psychologist at Ohio University Talan 14 Criminals purposely try to plead insanity for crimes they commit to escape severe punishment Its the last-ditch defense of anyone whos undeniably guilty on fact Morse Because of the manipulation of the insanity defense I believe it is in serious need of reform throughout the United States or it should be abolished in all criminal cases The controversy over the insanity defense comes from the many different interpretations of insanity and the different notions of how to deal with those people who are truly insane The insanity and incompetence defenses are considered by many to be defenses by excuse where a defendant may argue that heshe should not be held criminally liable for breaking the law as they were mentally ill or incompetent at the time of the criminal act This defense is based on the principle that punishment is reasonable only if the defendant is capable of both controlling hisher behavior and understanding that heshe has committed a wrongful act A defendant making this argument might plead not guilty by reason of insanity as defined in the Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics Insanity The concept of insanity is different from the concept of incompetence Incompetence is the inability of a defendant to understand the charges against himher the inability to participate in hisher defense and it relates to the defendants state of mind at the time of the trial
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