Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Podcast Number 55: What Happens to Shooters with Mental Illnesses?

There has been a lot in the media recently about mental illness and it's relationship to violence.
In this episode we have ClinkShrink walk us through what happens to a mentally ill defendant in a violent crime. First, there is the question of Competence: is the defendant able to meaningfully participate in his/her trial, this is the present mental capacity. If the defendant never becomes competent, he generally remains in a forensic facility indefinitely. At some point (10 years in our state for a capital crime), the law requires a final disposition, and the defendant who is not likely to ever attain competence will be civilly committed and will remain in a forensic facility.

The second question is one of sanity at the time of the crime. ClinkShrink talks about the complexities of insanity evaluations and the rarity of having a Not Criminally Responsible plea. We discuss the idea that incidental mental illness is not enough to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, that the mental illness must have influenced the criminal behavior or obscured the defendant's ability to appreciate the criminality of his behavior. Finally, Clink talks about what happens after an insanity acquittee is released and what type of aftercare planning gets put into place.

The photo is Billy Bob Thornton in Slingblade--he's our example of an insanity acquittee.

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