Despite popular belief, the insanity defense, so prominently
notarized by the media, is rarely used. Andrea Yates, John
Hinckley, The Menendez Brothers, Cary Stayner, Dan White and
many others have either entered insanity pleas or used mental
illness as a reason for their actions. In one study that was
conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, it was
used less than 1% of the time. In dealing with schizophrenics,
it is important for students to realize that not all schizophrenic
sufferers are violent. As a matter of fact, approximately
1% are prone to violence against others. With these facts
in mind, please reflect upon the Essential Question as posed.
Do insanity pleas serve a useful and meaningful purpose
in our society?
Subsidiary Questions To Consider Throughout
- How have insanity pleas evolved over the past few decades?
- What are some of the significant events and court cases
that have changed societys view of insanity pleas?
- How would you feel if a loved one or friend was murdered
and the murderer claimed insanity?
- What would it be like to participate in a murder trial
in which an insanity plea was used?
- What is schizophrenia and what are its symptoms?
- What part does changing public attitude play in our society?