A prospective comparison of four insanity defense standards.
ABSTRACT Controversy about the formulation of the insanity defense has been intense, but little empirical work is available regarding how different standards affect court findings. The major aims of the present study were to determine if different standards for determining insanity produced different judgments and to provide a broad descriptive picture of those cases in which the standards appeared to make a difference.
Four forensic psychiatrists were asked to indicate whether they thought 164 defendants met any or all of four insanity tests: 1) the American Law Institute (ALI) cognitive criterion, 2) the ALI volitional criterion, 3) the APA test, and 4) the M'Naghten rule.
The four psychiatrists determined that 97.5% of the defendants met the ALI volitional criterion, 73.9% met the APA criterion, 70.3% met the M'Naghten rule, and 69.5% met the ALI cognitive criterion. Nearly two-thirds of the defendants met all four insanity tests, and 24.4% met only the ALI volitional test. Few defendants met cognitive tests without also meeting the ALI volitional test. Elimination of the volitional test for insanity reduced the rate of psychiatric recommendations of acquittal by 24.4%.
These findings highlight the fact that the primary logical division between volitional and cognitive standards appears to be powerful but that distinctions between types of cognitive standards are not terribly powerful. In addition, the variation among individual raters must be viewed as an important determinant of how any insanity standard is applied.
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ABSTRACT: This paper provides a review of the legislative reforms and case law that have impacted the defense of Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCRMD) in Canada over the past three decades. As in other jurisdictions internationally, we observe that legislative reforms of procedural, as opposed to substantive, aspects of the NCRMD defense have impacted the manner in which NCRMD criteria are applied in common practice. More people are being declared NCRMD in recent years, and there is greater heterogeneity in the offending and psychiatric profiles of these individuals, suggesting that NCRMD criteria are being applied more liberally over time. In light of the substantial growth of the forensic mental health system over the past two decades, witnessed both in Canada and abroad, we propose that the study of motivational influences underlying the offending behaviors of persons with serious mental illness (SMI) is necessary to begin disentangling symptom-based offending from violent and antisocial behaviors that may have other motives. This, in turn, can help to determine legal issues, better define the nature of each person's offending and treatment needs, and provide a more fine-grained analysis of the drivers behind the growth experienced by the forensic system. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.Behavioral Sciences & the Law 04/2013; · 0.96 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The paper addresses some common questions about the insanity defense and issues raised by commonly proposed "reforms." The first section begins with a brief description of the insanity defense and the reasons for its existence in the law. It then examines some of the popular myths and public misperceptions surrounding the insanity defense. The next three sections discuss proposed "reforms" and the empirical research that addresses their effect. These reforms, including various procedural changes in definitions, burden of proof, and expert testimony, the institution of a guilty but mentally ill verdict, and the abolition of the insanity defense itself, are reviewed, along with relevant research findings and policy issues. Finally, the development of sound conditional release programs for criminal defendants found not guilty by reason of insanity is proposed as a reform option which could serve the objectives of enhancing public safety and access to appropriate treatment while continuing to meet the objectives of the insanity defense within criminal jurisprudence.Law and Human Behavior 07/1999; 23(3):375-93. · 2.16 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Background: Patients diagnosed with schizophrenia display poor premorbid adjustment (PPA) in half of the cases. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder (CD) are common child psychiatric disorders. These two facts have not previously been linked in the literature. Aims: To determine the prevalence of ADHD/CD problems retrospectively among patients with psychoses, and whether and to what extent the high frequency of substance abuse problems among such patients may be linked to ADHD/CD problems. Method: ADHD and CD problems/diagnoses were retrospectively recorded in one forensic (n = 149) and two non-forensic samples (n = 98 and n = 231) of patients with a psychotic illness: schizophrenia, bipolar or other, excluding drug-induced psychoses. Results: ADHD and CD were much more common among the patients than in the general population-the odds ratio was estimated to be greater than 5. There was no significant difference in this respect between forensic and non-forensic patients. Substance abuse was common, but substantially more common among patients with premorbid ADHD/CD problems. Conclusions: Previous views regarding PPA among patients with a psychotic illness may reflect an association between childhood ADHD/CD and later psychosis. The nature of this association remains uncertain: two disorders sharing some generative mechanisms or one disorder with two main clinical manifestations. Childhood ADHD and particularly CD problems contribute to the high frequency of substance abuse in such groups.Nordic journal of psychiatry 03/2014; · 0.99 Impact Factor