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“It’s crazy to plead insanity,” says one law professor
This plea rarely works. And yet, some of the most famous mass murderers have attempted it
Just this month, Eddie Ray Routh, the killer of ‘American Sniper,' Chris Kyle, was deemed sane by the jury
despite his insanity plea, and convicted of murder. So why is it so hard to prove insanity?
First of all, pleading insanity means that you admit to the crime itself
but you’re not responsible — because you’re insane
Also, you should not be put in prison or sentenced to death
The problem is, that it’s hard to prove insanity. In most US courts, the burden of proof is on the accused
A defendant must prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that he or she was so mentally ill, they didn’t know right from wrong during the crime
In the Routh case, during the closing argument, the prosecution highlighted the fact that Routh did have enough mental capacity after the murder to order a burrito at a fast food restaurant.
If he was insane, according to the prosecution, this food-trip would be unlikely
Another reason the insanity plea usually doesn’t work, according to several lawyers
is that jurors are hesitant to acquit people who have committed horrible crimes
The insanity plea, at its basic level, is a plea of innocence
People often feel that someone who is aware that they committed murder deserves to be convicted, and that the insanity plea is an “easy way out"
Routh confessed to committing murder, yet pleaded insanity
Despite a history of schizophrenia and PTSD, the jury convicted him. Similarly, in May 2014
David Tarloff also tried the insanity plea, after he brutally killed his psychologist. He, too, suffered from schizophrenia
necessitating several hospital stays. But again, the jury found him sane and guilty
A 1995 report from “The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law” says that
on average, insanity pleas are raised in less than 1% of criminal trials
And only about a quarter of those pleas are successful
Often, the media frenzies over famous murderers who plead insanity - like Ted Bundy
And that creates a false idea that insanity pleas are common, and that they work
Many criminals do have severe mental health issues, and there are many ways of criminally processing them
But for the majority of cases, in the United States, the insanity plea doesn’t work out
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Does Pleading Insanity Work?

15349 Folder Collection
鄭小鬼 published on August 30, 2016    劉宜佳 translated    Kristi Yang reviewed
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