The Insanity Plea Is Insane – Part 2

Our judicial system is intended to deliver justice, not compassion. Ignoring this crucial distinction had led to the shameful and dangerous situation in which admitted murderers are declared innocent and released into society without punishment and without even simple restitution for the victim’s survivors.
We can agree that Jim Jones of Guyana was insane, but does that mean that if he had survived the Jonestown massacre he should have been found not guilty by reason of insanity? Or Adolf Eichmann?
Unconditional love tells us to hate the sin, not the sinner. But loving someone unconditionally does not mean condoning misbehavior and unethical conduct. Wrongdoing may be forgiven—that’s compassionate—but it should never be overlooked or ignored—that’s foolish. Doing that for children leads to spoiled brats. Doing that for adults leads to anarchy and rampant violence. When lawbreaking occurs, it should be recognized and dealt with according to law. That is what justice is all about. Only when guilt or innocence has been determined does compassion become proper. If a finding of guilt has been made, there may be reason for a lighter sentence or even a pardon. On the other hand, there may be reason to “throw the book” at the convicted person. But letting someone “get away with it” is misplaced compassion.
The Nuremberg trials declared loud and clear that people must be responsible for their acts, even in time of war. Trials in America today, however, declare that people are not responsible for their acts because their state of mind excluded reason. Consequently, criminals have been handed the legal means to get away with murder, and they, aware that their lives are at stake, quite reasonably use it. As the saying goes, they may be crazy but they’re not stupid!
Legislators should correct this most gross miscarriage of justice—a miscarriage based on the foolish idea that a person’s state of mind has a bearing on his innocence or guilt in committing criminal behavior. If the person committed the act, he’s guilty—period. Whether he remembers doing it or whether he could make a rational decision at the time doesn’t matter at that point in the judicial proceedings. His state of mind and other possible mitigating or extenuating circumstances should be taken into account only in passing sentence. Irresponsible behavior should never be condoned to the point of murder. The failure of legislators to recognize and correct this outrageous situation only contributes to the general deterioration of respect for law and social order.

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