Nicohwilliam Please see attachment Write a two page paper on Law and Ethics in Abnormal Psychology. Be sure to include at least one paragraph about the ro
Please see attachment
Write a two page paper on Law and Ethics in Abnormal Psychology. Be sure to include at least one paragraph about the role technology plays in counseling and ethics surrounding its use. (issues with Telehealth, use of internet resources, etc.). Cite at least four references.
Sue, D., Sue, D. W., Sue, D., & Sue, S. (2014). Essentials of understanding abnormal behavior (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
A basic premise of criminal law is that all of us are responsible beings who exercise free will and are capable of choices. If we do something wrong, we are responsible for our actions and should suffer the consequences.
is the incarceration of an individual for having committed a crime. Although the field of psychology accepts different perspectives on free will, criminal law does not. Criminal law does recognize, however, that some people lack the ability to assist in their own defense or to discern the ramifications of their actions because they are mentally disturbed.
Although they may be technically guilty of a crime, their mental state at the time of the offense might exempt them from legal responsibility. Additionally, they might be mentally incapable of participating in criminal proceedings against them. Let us explore the landmark cases that have influenced how criminal law is applied to individuals who are seriously mentally ill. Standards arising from these cases and some other important guidelines are summarized in Figure 16.1.
Figure 16.1Legal Standards That Address the Mental State of the Defendant
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16-1aCompetency to Stand Trial
On June 5, 2002, Brian David Mitchell kidnapped 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart at knifepoint from her Salt Lake City, Utah, home. The incident set off a massive search effort and evoked intense media coverage. Smart was rescued 9 months later after enduring a horrendous experience that included a forced polygamous “marriage,” frequent rapes, and constant threats to her life. Mitchell, a former street preacher, was arrested for the crime, but claimed that God had commanded him to abduct Smart, to enter into a celestial marriage, and to form a religious society of younger females.
Despite his capture and arrest, Mitchell’s trial did not begin until November 2010—almost 9 years later. The delays occurred because in three separate court hearings, Mitchell was judged “mentally incapable of assisting in his own defense.” In the courtroom he sang hymns and screamed at the judge to “forsake those robes and kneel in the dust.” His behavior was so bizarre that he was banished from the courtroom several times.
As a result, the judge ordered that Mitchell be hospitalized until he was capable of understanding the proceedings. Mitchell refused to participate in psychiatric treatment or to take antipsychotic medication. Finally, following a series of hearings and review of conflicting opinions from various experts who evaluated Mitchell, a federal judge ruled that Mitchell was competent to stand trial. At the trial, the jury rejected his insanity defense and found him guilty. On May 25, 2011, Mitchell was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Most court-appointed psychiatrists and psychologists who examined Mitchell declared him not competent to stand trial, although a few believed he was manipulating the system and feigning psychosis. The term
competency to stand trial
refers to a defendant’s mental state at the time of psychiatric examination after arrest and before trial. It has nothing to do with the issue of criminal responsibility, which refers to an individual’s mental state at the time of the offense. Federal law states that an accused person cannot stand trial unless three criteria are satisfied (Fitch, 2007):
· The defendant must have a factual understanding of the proceedings.
· The defendant must have a rational understanding of the proceedings.
· The defendant must be able to rationally consult with counsel in presenting his or her own defense.
These criteria suggest that a defendant who is severely psychotic, for example, could not stand trial because a serious impairment exists. Determination of competency to stand trial is meant to ensure that a person understands the nature of the legal proceedings and is able to help in his or her own defense. The goal is to protect and preserve the civil rights of people who are mentally disturbed. But being judged incompetent to stand trial may have unfair negative consequences as well. A person may be held in custody for an extended period of time, denied the chance to post bail, and isolated from friends and family, all without having been found guilty of a crime.
Such a miscarriage of justice was the focus of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the 1972 case of Jackson v. Indiana. In that case, a man with mental retardation and brain damage, deaf and unable to speak, was charged with robbery. However, he was found incompetent to stand trial and was incarcerated indefinitely—which in his case probably meant for life, because of the severity and unchanging nature of his disabilities. In other words, it was unlikely that he would ever be judged competent to stand trial on the robbery charges, and thus faced the prospect of being incarcerated for life. His lawyers filed a petition to have him released on the basis of deprivation of
—the legal checks and balances that are guaranteed to everyone, such as the right to receive a fair trial, the right to face one’s accusers, the right to present evidence, and the right to have counsel.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a defendant cannot be confined indefinitely solely on the grounds of incompetency. After a reasonable time, a determination must be made as to whether the person is likely or unlikely to regain competency in the foreseeable future. If experts conclude that competency is unlikely, the institution must either release the individual or initiate civil commitment procedures. This is a significant ruling because many people are committed to prison hospitals because of incompetency determinations. It is estimated, for example, that approximately 40,000 people in the United States are evaluated each year for competency to stand trial, and as many as 75 percent are determined to be incompetent (Zapf & Roesch, 2006). The Jackson v. Indiana decision prompted federal competency hearings in the case of Brian David Mitchell because he could not be held indefinitely without a trial; additionally, prosecutors pushed for another hearing because they did not want the statute of limitations on the charges to expire.
Legal Precedents Regarding the Insanity Defense
is a legal argument used by defendants who admit they have committed a crime but plead not guilty because they were mentally disturbed at the time of the crime. The insanity plea recognizes that under specific circumstances, people may not be held accountable for their behavior. As we saw in the case of James Holmes and Brian David Mitchell, defense strategies sometimes involve such a contention—that the defendants are not guilty because they were insane (not of sound mind) at the time of the crime.
In the United States, a number of different standards have been used as legal tests of insanity. One of the earliest is the M’Naghten rule. In 1843, Daniel M’Naghten, a mentally disturbed woodcutter from Glasgow, Scotland, claimed that he was commanded by God to kill the British Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel. He killed a lesser minister by mistake and was placed on trial, where it became obvious that M’Naghten was quite delusional. Out of this incident emerged the M’Naghten rule, popularly known as the “right–wrong” test, which holds that people can be acquitted of a crime if, at the time of the act, they (a) had such defective reasoning that they did not know what they were doing, or (b) were unable to comprehend that the act was wrong. The M’Naghten rule has been criticized for being a cognitive test (knowledge of right or wrong) that does not consider motivation or other factors. Further, it is often difficult to evaluate or determine a defendant’s awareness or comprehension at the time of the crime.
Did You Know?
Hawaii requires several independent forensic evaluations when the insanity defense is used. Clinicians who evaluate the same defendant for insanity often reach different conclusions. It is not surprising that juries reached a unanimous decision regarding insanity in only 55 percent of cases, according to a review of 165 defendants and 483 evaluations in Hawaii.
Source: Gowensmith, Murrie, & Boccaccini, 2013
The second major precedent associated with the insanity defense is the
irresistible impulse test
. In essence, this doctrine says that defendants are not criminally responsible if they lacked the willpower to control their behaviors. Combined with the M’Naghten rule, this test broadened the criteria for using the insanity defense. In other words, a not guilty by reason of insanity verdict could be obtained if a jury determined that the defendant did not understand that his or her actions were wrong or if the actions resulted from an irresistible impulse to commit the acts (Finnane, 2012).
Criticisms of the irresistible impulse defense revolve around what constitutes an irresistible impulse. When, for example, is a person unable to exert control (irresistible impulse) rather than choosing not to exert control (unresisted impulse)? Is a man who rapes a woman unable to resist his impulses, or is he choosing not to exert control? Neither the mental health profession nor the legal profession has answered this question satisfactorily.
Legal understandings of the insanity plea were further expanded in the case of Durham v. United States (1954), when a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit broadened the M’Naghten rule with the so-called “product test,” or
. This standard maintains that an accused person should not be considered criminally responsible if his or her unlawful act was the product of a mental disease or defect. The intent of the ruling was to (a) give the greatest possible weight to expert evaluation and testimony and (b) allow mental health professionals to define mental illness.
The Durham standard also has its drawbacks. The term product is vague and difficult to define. Additionally, if the task of defining mental illness is left to mental health professionals, it becomes necessary to consider definitions of mental illness on a case-by-case basis. In many situations, relying on psychiatric testimony serves only to confuse the issues, because both the prosecution and defense bring in psychiatric experts, who often present conflicting opinions (Koocher & Keith-Spiegel, 2008). What we know from cases such as those of James Holmes and Brian David Mitchell is that expert testimony can vary significantly.
In 1962, the American Law Institute Model Penal Code provided guidelines to help jurors determine the validity of the insanity defense. The guidelines combine features from the previous standards (Sec. 401, p. 66):
1. A person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of such conduct as a result of mental disease or defect he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.
2. As used in the Article, the terms “mental disease or defect” do not include an abnormality manifested by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct.
This second point was included to eliminate the insanity defense option for the many criminals diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder who make a clear decision to violate the law.
In some jurisdictions, the concept of
has also been incorporated into the American Law Institute standard. Diminished capacity is the absence of a specific intent to commit the offense as a result of mental impairment. For example, a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol may commit a crime without premeditation or intent; a person who is grieving over the death of a loved one may harm the person responsible for the death. Although diminished capacity is primarily used to guide the sentencing and disposition of defendants, it is sometimes introduced in the trial phase with the hope that the defendant will be convicted of a lesser charge.
Public Outrage over Acquittal Based on Insanity
John Hinckley, Jr. (center), was charged with the attempted murder of President Ronald Reagan. His acquittal by reason of insanity created a furor among the U.S. public over use of the insanity defense. The outrage led Congress to pass the Insanity Defense Reform Act.
Insanity Defense Reform
Perhaps no trial has challenged the use of the insanity plea more than the case of John W. Hinckley, Jr., who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. The jury’s verdict that he was not guilty by reason of insanity outraged the public, as well as some legal and mental health professionals. Many were concerned that the criteria for the insanity defense were too broadly interpreted and calls for reforms were rampant. Hinckley’s recent request to move in full-time with his mother outside of the mental hospital has reignited this controversy (Milfeld, 2015).
As a result of the public outcry, Congress passed the Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, which based the definition of insanity totally on the individual’s ability to understand what he or she did. In the wake of the Hinckley verdict, some states adopted alternative pleas, such as “culpable and mentally disabled,” “mentally disabled, but neither culpable nor innocent,” and “guilty, but mentally ill.” These pleas are attempts to separate mental illness from insanity and to hold people responsible for their acts. Such pleas allow jurors to hold defendants responsible for their crimes while also ensuring that they receive treatment for their mental illnesses.
Did You Know?
A frequent misconception is that people with a mental illness are dangerous. The majority of people with mental disorders, including those with psychosis, are neither violent nor dangerous. Substance abuse and a history of violence increase the risk, however.
Source: Elbogen & Johnson, 2009
Despite attempts at reform, however, states and municipalities continue to use different tests of insanity, with varying outcomes. Under Colorado law, for example, prosecutors in the Aurora theater shooting were required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt not only that Holmes had “a culpable state of mind,” but also that he was “not insane” at the time of the shooting. In other words, the prosecution needed to convince jurors that Holmes understood right from wrong and that he acted with intent, deliberately taking actions that he knew would kill people. Only then could jurors find him guilty of murder and subject to life imprisonment or execution (Gurman, 2015).
16-1cContemporary Views on the Insanity Defense
The concept of “not guilty by reason of insanity” continues to provoke controversy among legal scholars, mental health practitioners, and the general public. Most defendants who use this defense have a long history of severe mental illness. James Holmes is an exception to this pattern. Another well-known exception is Andrea Yates, who, on June 30, 2001, waited for her husband to leave for work, filled the bathtub to the very top, and proceeded to drown her five children (ages 7 months to 7 years).
After killing her children, she carried them to a bedroom, laid them out next to one another, and covered them with a sheet. She then contacted 911. Afterward, she called her husband and stated, “You need to come home. . . . It’s time. I did it.” When asked what she meant, Yates responded, “It’s the children . . . all of them.” When the police arrived, Yates calmly explained how she had killed her five young children.
The case of Andrea Yates