Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Podcast Number 55: What Happens to Shooters with Mental Illnesses?

There has been a lot in the media recently about mental illness and it's relationship to violence.
In this episode we have ClinkShrink walk us through what happens to a mentally ill defendant in a violent crime. First, there is the question of Competence: is the defendant able to meaningfully participate in his/her trial, this is the present mental capacity. If the defendant never becomes competent, he generally remains in a forensic facility indefinitely. At some point (10 years in our state for a capital crime), the law requires a final disposition, and the defendant who is not likely to ever attain competence will be civilly committed and will remain in a forensic facility.

The second question is one of sanity at the time of the crime. ClinkShrink talks about the complexities of insanity evaluations and the rarity of having a Not Criminally Responsible plea. We discuss the idea that incidental mental illness is not enough to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, that the mental illness must have influenced the criminal behavior or obscured the defendant's ability to appreciate the criminality of his behavior. Finally, Clink talks about what happens after an insanity acquittee is released and what type of aftercare planning gets put into place.

The photo is Billy Bob Thornton in Slingblade--he's our example of an insanity acquittee.

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Anonymous said...

Did not see the movie starring Billy Bob but that picture does not do much do convince people that the mentally ill look like anyone else. He looks like an ape, no offense to apes. Makes me sad.

Dinah said...

The truth is that mass murderers don't usually look "normal." Maybe it's the unflattering mug shots, maybe it's bad lighting, but think of those faces on the news...they don't look like everyone else. It's the murderer thing, not the mentally ill thing, that Billy Bob has going on here. Don't take it personally unless you're a weird looking murderer.

Anonymous said...

Billy Bob says: "What's the number for the Po-lice? Cuz I'm fixing to chop you up with this slingblade. Pass the French-Fired Pertatoes."

Anonymous said...


I don't really take it personally. I am not a murderer, weird looking or otherwise.
I have met only one murderer that I know of in my life. A guy who killed and dismembered another guy many years ago. He was apparently strung out on drugs at the time. The story is very gruesome and yet he looked like any other guy at is nephew's birthday party. He had been released afer years in prison.At the time I met him, I recall thinking how ordinary he looked. I am not sure that depravity always has a face.
I wonder also what was weird about the Columbine murderers, at least appearnce wise. They look like they would fit in at my kids' frat partiesgratesin

Anonymous said...

hmm typed the word verification in the wrong place.

moviedoc said...

Depends on what you mean by mentally ill. In the prequel, Some Folks Call It a Sling Blade, Karl murders at the ripe old age of 13, a victim of child abuse. I remain uncertain about his diagnosis.

tracy said...

Second Anon
Great impression!