Mad About the Insanity Defense

Mad about the Insanity Defense
Today in our legal system, there are many questionable defense tactics.They are
designed to protect the rights of the charged, and further the cause of justice.However, in many
cases this betterment of justice has been taken too far, and thus pleas such as “Temporary
insanity” are born.Indeed, as will be proven, the insanity defense in itself has been stretched
nearly to its breaking point.The insanity defense will be critically examined, here, and proven
in some cases necessary while others have no right using the plea.
The history of the insanity defense goes back as far as government.Yet as Thomas
Maeder stated in his book Crime and Madness, the Origins and Evolutions of the Insanity
Defense, surprisingly enough, “Throughout most of history there have been no specific criteria
for exculpatory insanity”(3).In ancient Hebrew times, as Maeder notes, the law simply states
that idiots, lunatics, and children below a given age are not to be held criminally responsible (3).
Indeed, in Ancient Greek and Roman cultures, nothing has survived to show any adaption to this
exception, save a part of Plato’s Laws (3). Platos Laws says that if a defendant is senile, a child
or proven insane he should be responsible for no more than the payment of civil damages,
“Except that if he has killed someone and his hands are polluted by murder he must depart to a
place in another country and live there in exile for a year” (Maeder 3). Furthermore, there are
scarce traces of early insanity cases, thus it is difficult to make generalizations about the defense,
yet there have been some noted cases where the defendant was sentenced to life in prison
(Maeder 4).“By the fifteenth century…If the defendant had committed the act, they had to
convict; if he was insane, or a minor, or had killed in self-defense, they could recommend

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