Thursday, 19 November 2009

The Insanity Plea

Recently, I witnessed an accused person leaving court with an acquittal from a charge of causing GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm).
I was in court on a different official matter. I felt sad for both the accused person and the victims of his crime.
As I glanced at the family and friends of the victim , huddled together, heads bowed, my heart sank.
Their faces clearly showed their pain , bitterness and disgust at the outcome of months of court appearances.
The victim survived the vicious attack , but with disabilities for life.
He sat in a wheel chair speechless and looked very shocked.
I could only imagine how those people felt ; especially when the accused walked free; with a swagger and with a broad grin, like that of the cat that got the cream!
He walked free amidst cheers and back slapping for him from his supporters!
The accused person was acquitted by reason of insanity.
He was "free", sort of ; free to be taken away to a secured unit. Escorted by social workers and securities operatives who whisked him away, quickly, from the scene.
He had his day in court and the laws of the land had found him unfit to be held culpable for his actions. So be it.
Apart from the legal considerations, it is morally wrong and unfair to convict an insane person of crimes committed by him or her during the period he/she is adjudged "Criminally Insane ".
But where do we draw the line? Who qualifies for the Insanity Plea?
There are numerous cases of people committing murder or causing GBH because the culprit felt the victim had shown him "disrespect".
In another of such cases of GBH, this person who had committed similar offences twice before, re-offended. Since he was registered as suffering from "Severe Clinical Depression", he had been let off the previous charges and placed on a course of treatment and rehabilitation.
However, this time around,things were not that easy for him.
He had to be placed in a far-away secure unit, for his own good. With a complete change of identity !
The reason being that after weeks in hospital, his victim survived the stabbing by a hair-breadth and identified him!
This latest victim had two brothers who themselves were suspected to have undiagnosed serious mental problems. They had been on observation by the authorities for months for severe antisocial behaviour patterns ,even before their brother was stabbed.
They have vowed revenge. Nobody in their neighbour hood who knew what they were capable of doing ,disbelieved them!
If the brothers succeed in carrying out their threat and they are charged to court, what would their pleas be? "Insanity" or "Disrespect"?

Someone said every human being suffers, usually unnoticed ,brief mental derailment of about five minutes , daily.
Wouldn't it be just , simply wonderful to be able to exploit our perceived insane moments ? To do all those evil things which we would love to do ; but for the law and fear of reprisals which restrain us? Then plead insanity after being caught!
I mean, the list is endless. We could, all, decide to have a field day with this "Insanity" thing.
Every one knows someone who they would like to encircle that person's throat with their hands and squeeze hard.
Or we could decide to pay "courtesy visits" to the shops filled with all those luxury goods and gadgets which have caught our fancy.
We could take our pick of all the goods on offer and make our exit, quietly, with the loot!
And just in case , any overzealous store detective apprehends us at the store exit, just look at him , grin sweetly and plead insanity!
There was a case of a man who pleaded insanity when caught pants down with another woman , by his wife!

The Insanity Plea is not for persons with violent and ungovernable tempers or persons who have no regard for law and order,or for peaceful co-existence with others.
It is not for those who have no qualms about breaking the law but they think they are too "posh for prison"!

After every crime,the lives of both the culprits and the victims are shattered. Nobody is ever "free" or remains the same after shedding human blood , stealing or hurting people's feelings.
The freedom which can be gotten by a plea of insanity is only for those who , of a truth , are incapable of being aware of their actions.
If ignorance is bliss, then the schizophrenic mind is, indeed, seated on a throne in Cuckooland, completely oblivious and at peace in his world.
Pretenders to this "throne" plead feigned "insanity" in order to escape conviction.
They could escape conviction; many of them have done so , through the services of brilliant defence teams and by faulty judgments but they are never free because , for the rest of their lives , they have murdered their own sleep.
"...the VOICE of thy brother's blood crieth to me from the ground.
And now thou art cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand"; Genesis 4: 10,11.

Happy New Year !