Tag: Insanity defense

Hinckley Wants Out

It’s been a few years since I sped read through “Psychiatry For Dummies” so maybe some medical break throughs occurred when I wasn’t looking, but can a person who is seriously mentally ill, become mentally NOT ill? I’m not talking about your typical lite weight, someone who suffers through anxiety, depression, nervous habits, or even someone who has difficulty concentrating (ADHD), all these can be regulated with medication. Prozac, Ritalin, anti depressants, even Lithium, wonder drugs that can help those afflicted to cope better and lead productive lives. But what about those bat shit insane psychopaths that have proven themselves dangerous to society by past actions? Once it is discovered that the wiring is faulty and the result of this haywiring is a deranged dangerous animal, can any amount of psycho therapy make him not dangerous, to the point where he is allowed to interact with society again?

The man who attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan is asking to spend more time outside a Washington mental hospital, but a government lawyer says John Hinckley’s request is premature and that he recently lied to cover up the fact he looked at books on Reagan and presidential assassinations.

It wasn’t for lack of trying that Hinckley failed in killing the president, a police officer and secret service guy also took bullets, and press secretary James Brady never recovered from his gunshot wound to the head.

Thinking you are Travis Bickle, winning the heart of your beloved by shooting the president definitely qualifies you as a looney tune, but now the doctors and his lawyer thinks he is right as rain, cured, and now ready to be turned lose on society again.

See, that is one the big advantage of going with the insanity defense (although in this instance, who doubts the diagnosis?) you don’t get incarcerated, you get treatment, and nicer digs. And given the right amount of persuasion, it is common for these doctors to declare themselves successful (do they right their own evaluations for themselves?) and declare the patient cured, happy days.

Hinckley has had unsupervised visits in the past to visit his mom, now he and his lawyer wants “convalescent leave” without court approval, which would allow him to live with his 85-year-old mother for an indefinite period, meaning he is out and about, walking amongst us.

Not all agree that Hinckley is a changed man:

“Hinckley still is not sufficiently well to alleviate the concern that this violence may be repeated,” United States Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and other Justice Department officials wrote in a court document arguing against allowing Hinckley more unsupervised time away from St. Elizabeths. “Hinckley’s mental health is better, but his core diagnoses remain and there is recent evidence of deception toward his treating physicians as well as narcissism, both of which are significant risk factors for future violence.”

I wonder, is Hinckley getting a longer leash because he didn’t actually kill anyone? Does the actual outcome matter in instances like these? Spraying bullets into a crowd for the purpose of killing the President, can that act be mitigated at all because he was not successful?

Today I read that Anders Breivik was officially declared mentally ill:

The courts will still have to rule on the report, but if the conclusion is upheld than Breivik will face forced psychiatric treatment, rather than prison, and could be released if he’s later determined to no longer be a threat to others.

OK, what about this guy? He was more successful in his killing rampage, probably not any more mentally ill then Hinckley, given a sufficient amount of time (up to the doctors and their miraculous powers of healing) should this guy ever see the light of day?

Ditto with Jared Lee Loughner, his actions where fairly similar to that of Hinckley, yes, deaths were involved, but is there any doubt that insanity will play a major role in his defense? How many years does he sit on ice before his doctors (not a parole board, where victims and their families can speak and influence the decision) declare themselves successful, in making him sane again?

The main reason we have prisons (aside from making the criminal pay for his crime) is that society deserves to be protected from those that will do them harm. And in committing a dangerous deadly crime, you forfeit your right to interact with others, you don’t get the protection of the herd anymore and you get removed. Committing murder, or attempted murder, regardless of sane or insane, you have proven to society that you are not safe and they can’t be safe around you. Sorry, but Hinckley, Breivik, Loughner, and those like them don’t get a second chance, too risky.