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Insanity definition case study

Case Study

One of the most heinous series of crimes in U.S. history was uncovered in the state of Wisconsin in 1991 when Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested for killing as many as 17 men and young boys over several years. His murders included the sadistic rape, torture, murder and even cannibalism of some of his victims. It was alleged that Dahmer drilled holes in some of his victim's heads while they were alive, but bound and sedated. He then poured acid into the holes in an attempt to create the perfect sex slave. His murders ranged in time from 1978 until he was arrested for his assault on Tracy Edwards, his potential 18th victim. In his apartment following his arrest, were four human heads, one of which was in the refrigerator. Also in the apartment were severed hands and penises, multiple photos of mangled body parts, and other atrocious evidence. Tracy Edwards had escaped from Dahmer's apartment and summoned the police. Several corpses were found stored in a vat of acid. The news of the horrific deeds committed by Jeffrey Dahmer soon hit the press and had people wondering how anyone in their right mind could do something like this to another human being. That same question was posed, albeit in a slightly different fashion, of several forensic mental health experts before Dahmer's 2-week trial began in January of 1992. Jeffrey Dahmer chose to plead "not guilty by reason of insanity." He was formally evaluated by mental health experts hired by the defense and the prosecution. Among the diagnoses given were substance abuse issues and several paraphilias, including sexual sadism. It was alleged by one of the mental health experts at trial that, as a sexual sadist, Dahmer could not resist his urges to commit the crimes for which he was accused. Ultimately, Dahmer was found guilty and sentenced to 15 life terms. He was murdered by a fellow inmate while serving his sentence at the Columbia Correctional Institute in Portage, Wisconsin.

1) Federal Insanity definition - " the time of the commission of the acts constituting the offense, the defendant, as a result of serious mental disease or defect, was unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his acts. Mental disease or defect does not otherwise constitute a defense."
(U.S. Code, Title 18)

2) American Law Institute's Model Penal Code Insanity definition - "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."

Forensic psychology professionals who work with criminal courts take their knowledge of psychology and apply it to the legal arena. This may take many forms including but not limited to assessing for insanity, determining competency, consulting on jury selection, and giving expert testimony. However, many terms such as competency to stand trial and insanity are legal terms with legal definitions and ultimately are decided by the court and not the psychologist. The psychologist's role is one of expert witness who works within the confines of the legal system. In this Application Assignment, you consider the legal definitions of insanity (there is no uniform standard) and how different definitions might have led to different trial outcomes in a high-profile case study. You also will identify another case in which the definition of insanity impacted the outcome of the trial.

? Given the information in the case study presented and the two different definitions of insanity, explain how and why each definition might lead to a different outcome in this case.
? Describe the case you selected from your Internet and explain how the legal definition of insanity contributed to the verdict.
? Explain what conclusions you can draw about legal definitions and their influence on case outcomes.

Solution Preview

Insanity Defense:

One of main defenses that are used in the United States Courts criminal trials is the insanity defense. This occurs when the defendant claims that they are not responsible for the crimes accused since they had a mental health problem that prompted them to undertake the crime. This is to give the indication that they were not acting in their right mind. The use of the insanity defense in the courts has increased in the criminal courts due the advantages that are tied to it. A defendant using the insanity defense and their mental health disorder is not disputed by the courts, will be viewed as insane since the court will decide that they were not responsible for the crimes committed. In the United States, the variation in the use of the insanity defense in the court is dependent upon the following significant attributes; whether it is deemed appropriate to use the insanity defense in the case, the definition that will be used by the court for insanity and the burden of proof that will be accompanied in the court proceeding to show that the accused is insane (Defense Insanity, 2012).

Case Scenario Applied:

In Jeffrey Dahmer's case, the use of the ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides the definition of insanity case study.