Volume 20, Issue 1 (January 1975)
Is the Insanity Defense “Unconscionable”?
Over the years, much criticism has been directed at the concept of the insanity defense, which at its root reflected the traditional feeling that public policy is not served by imposing blame on those not responsible for their behavior. Though this principle has achieved a global recognition, it has reached its height in the Anglo-Saxon world of demons and devils, which is dominated by its early religious origins and the Augustinian concept of free will. Yet increasingly we have slowly become aware of other issues; for example, the rigid concept of responsibility and its corollary, nonresponsibility, have at various times been utilized to deprive various groups of power and participation in society. Traditionally, one group of disabled and legally incompetent who must be both protected and kept powerless consisted of the unholy triumvirate of the insane, children, and women.