1 Mental Impairment – NEG
Ladies and gentlemen, think of yourself as someone who is legally insane.
First, please take a look at line 1, “.
.. ban the mental impairment defense as a mitigating
..” Mental impairment is a very broad term that isn’t actually legally defined. It involves any
type of mental problem basically. Unfortunately for the bill, mental retardation falls under this
broad spectrum. In
Atkins v. Virginia
, the Supreme Court banned the execution of mentally retarded,
based on the 8th Amendment. A mitigating factor is something that can lessen the sentence of
someone, and I’d say that “not getting death” is lessening the sentence.
This right here should be the only reason to vote against it. It’s completely unconstitutional.
But it really is not the only problem.
If the person who wrote this bill is intelligent at all, it’s obvious that the intent of this bill
was to ban the insanity defense; he or she just didn’t know the actual wording. But the wording isn’t
even the problem with this bill! I frankly don’t even understand why we are debating this bill at all.
The insanity defense might seem very prevalent, based on the media attention these sorts of cases
get, but the fact is that this just about never happens.
Obviously if the legal system had this kind of Get out of Jail Free loophole, the prisons
would be empty. Reality actually has a bit of logic though: NPR reported in 2009 that the Insanity
Defense is attempted in
less than one percent
of all legal cases. And in that one percent, only 25
percent actually get acquitted.
Then, in that tiny, tiny fraction of cases where the guy "got off" because he convinced the
court he was insane, he doesn't get to just go home. You get sent to a mental institution where you
don't have a set sentence at all--they keep you as long as they see fit, which may be forever. You're
there until "deemed safe to return to society", which according to the American Psychiatric
Association is usually
twice as long as the jail sentence would have been.
Why do we need this bill? What is the point? There is that less than 0.25 percent of people
that are deemed insane, but how many people in that demographic actually
and actually need to go to a psychiatric hospital? These people would not do well in a regular
prison, and a psychiatric hospital is the best option for them, and this bill is getting rid of that
The faulty wording of this bill is completely unconstitutional. But even if, say, we were to
amend the bill to fix it, it’d still be pointless, and wrong.
So for that, I urge to vote in negation of this bill