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Criticisms and Reforms of INSANITY

A look at the criticisms and proposed reforms of the British Law on the defence of Insanity.

Nicola Allen

on 17 March 2011

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Transcript of Criticisms and Reforms of INSANITY

INSANITY CRITICISMS In general, it is criticised as a defence because it does not set a medical standard for insanity, but instead a legal one BYRNE (1960)
Irresistable impulses disallowed
under the M'Naghten Rules.
Insanity overlaps with the defence of automatism. It is necessary to decide if D's automatic state is as a result of mental illness or external factors Those not guilty by reason of insanity can have an order imposed whilst those pleading automatism are given a complete acquittal. Epileptics and Diabetics =
INSANE Insanity has a negative
social stigma Unclear laws on diabetics.
Some are acquitted whilst others
are not guilty by reason of insanity R V QUICK (1973)
NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY Critics have passed some unease towards confining those NGBRI to mental institutes Critics believe that the observation of D's mental state should be of the mens rea of the offence and not of their mental disorder. If the condition counteracted the MR then D should be acquitted In 1975 the Butler Committee subjected insanity to criticism due to the "outmoded language of the M'Naghten rules which gives rise to the problems of interpretation." They followed this saying the M'Naghten rules were "based on the now obselete belief ...in controlling social behaviour ...are therefore not a satisfactory test of criminal responsibility." A final criticism is that the defence's burden on proof is on the defendant In all other cases it BoP lies with the prosecution REFORMS In 1953 the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment suggested reform of the M'Naghten Rules They suggested that D would be classed as insane where he was 'incapable of preventing himself' from committing the offence in question Government brought in the defence of Diminished Responsibility DR is only a defence to
MURDER Various reforms and draft Criminal Code Bills have been submitted by the Butler Committee (1975) and Law Commission (1989) respectively Both of these were ignored. Their proposal was that D should not be guilty on evidene of a severe mental disorder or handicap After their 1975 criticisms the Butler Committee suggested some re-wording Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Not Guilty on Evidence of Mental Disorder No proposals have been incorporated into the law, but their have been changes to D's outcome after their sentence, which has softened criticisms The judge can sentence D to a supervision and treatment order, of give an absolute discharge where suitable
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