Criminal justice system with mental illness

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Defendants in the criminal justice system with mental illness presents challenges between justice and fairness. A person’s lack of understanding of the charges being brought against him can hinder the ability of a fair defense. To determine competency to stand trial a battery of assessments and evaluations by a mental health professional are required. The evidence of a cognitive defect or major mental illness must be so severe that it restricts the defendant’s legal competencies Indiana v. Edwards (07-208) In the case of Indiana vs Edward’s, the state charged Edwards with theft, criminal recklessness, battery, and attempted murder after he stole a pair of shoes from a department store. He also shot a security guard and a bystander while attempting to get away. Edwards pleaded insanity and petitioned a court to determine if he was competent to stand trial. A court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed him with schizophrenia and concluded he was incompetent to stand trial. He was committed to hospitalization for treatment. After six years of psychiatric evaluations, treatment, and competency hearings Edwards was deemed competent to stand trial.Some defendants with a severe mental illness may be able to proceed with their case if the mental illness does not impair the legal abilities necessary to go forward. A person who is insane is said to lack the understanding of the crime or the difference between right and wrong and therefore cannot be held responsible for the crime. Initially, the defense could be used to pardon a criminal’s sentence. In the case of Clark vs Arizona, Clark was charged with first-degree murder for killing a police officer. Clark’s defense was his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia- “at the time of the crime he was afflicted with a mental disease or defect of such severity that he did not know the criminal act was wrong” CLARK v. ARIZONA (No. 05-5966).  Clark argued he mistook the police as aliens posing as government agents attempting to kill him. The state’s rebuttal offered circumstantial evidence that Clark previously stated he intended to shoot police and found a way to carry out the threat. Clark did not prove his diagnosis was severe enough to distort his perception of right and wrong actions under Arizona law. Arizona courts restrict mental health evidence to insanity only.  It considers that the defendant possessed the required mental capacity necessary to satisfy an element of the crime. The evidence is admissible only to show that the defendant was insane at the time of the crime’s commission. In this case, the defendant knew right from wrong and so he could not qualify under Arizona’s insanity defense CLARK v. ARIZONA (No. 05-5966).Civil right laws stipulate that patients receive treatment that will give them a realistic opportunity to be cured or to improve his or her mental conditions. It also supports the right to refuse treatment and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Johnson ruled in the Wyatt vs Stickney case that the condition in an Alabama state hospital failed to conform to any know minimums established for providing treatment for the mentally ill Wyatt v. Stickney 325 F. Supp 781(M.D.Ala.1971). The bases of this decision made were due to there being an inadequate amount of psychologist and social workers per patient, one psychiatrist on staff for 5,000 patients, and a food budget of .50 per day.  According to the article “The Right to Treatment” by Morton Binbaum each mental patient has the right to such treatment as would give him a realistic opportunity to be cured or improve his mental condition. Failing that the patient should be able to obtain release at will despite the existence or severity of his mental illness. His rationale was doing so would create enforcement to improve hospitalizations and treatment standards and drastically deinstitutionalize previously committed patients regardless if their commitment was voluntary or involuntary.Patients sometimes reject mental health drug treatment because of side effects or they feel it is ineffective in the treatment process. A diagnosis of a mental disorder doe does not strip a person of their right to refuse treatment. Coercive treatment should only be considered when a person is a danger to themselves or others and can not be prevented by any other means. For example, consider the case of Harper who demonstrated violent behavior after revoking consent of medication used to treat “manic depression”. He was consequently transferred From Washington State prison to a facility for convicted felons with mental disorders. During his stay, he was forced to take antipsychotic medications in accordance with the policies and procedures of the facility. The policy required the coercive measures can be taken with the following conditions; 1. A psychiatrist determined the necessity of the medication 2, majority vote that the prisoner diagnosed with a mental disorder was a danger to self or others 3, the prisoner had a right to attend the hearing and present evidence with aid of a lay advisor and seek judicial review. Harper filed charges against Washington claiming a violation of his right to due process before involuntary administration of the medication. The trial court rejected Harper’s claim. The decision was upheld by the court because the procedure in place by the facility did not deprive the inmates of due process and therefore balanced the inmate’s rights and the state’s interest by allowing the request of a hearing before a committee to review medication decision.Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346 (1997), case shows the state’s ability to exercise its authority to forcibly commit a person who is deemed to be a threat to others because they are incapable to control their behavior. The likelihood of the offender to repeat a sex crime due to a mental disorder or other psychological conditions results in long-term treatment involuntarily. Hendricks long history of sexually molesting children was brought to trial and he was committed under the Kansas Sexually violent predator act. Hendricks appealed on the grounds of the act violated double jeopardy. A jury found that he was indeed a violent predator with a diagnosis of pedophilia and commitment was permissible because the ruling was therapeutic and limited to civil commitment. The penalties do not serve the retribution or deterrent principles of the criminal justice system and therefore double jeopardy does not apply.Refrences https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-5966.ZS.html CST Clark vs Arizonahttps://mentalillnesspolicy.org/legal/wyatt-stickney-right-treatment.htmlhttp://www.clinicalforensicpsychology.org/washington-v-harper-1990/https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/521/346/https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/cert/07-208  Indiana v. Edwards (07-208)

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