The Rant: Insanity vs. Guilt

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We heard a lot about the Insanity Defense during the American Sniper trial.  Eddie Ray Routh’s lawyers pleaded “not guilty by reason of insanity.”

When you listen to the witnesses describing the things Eddie Ray Routh said and did, it’s easy to think something was wrong in the man’s head.

But no matter what his mental state was, the words “NOT GUILTY” would have been pretty hard to swallow.

Remember when Dena Schlosser of Plano killed her eleven-month-old daughter by cutting off her arms, and was found “not guilty by reason of insanity?”  Just four years later, she was back among us.

In Texas, if someone’s found “not guilty by reason of insanity,” once they’re found fit to re-enter society, they’re free.

Shouldn’t we have something in between, that acknowledges mental illness, but still holds the defendant accountable?

Nearly half of the states have an alternate plea.  It’s “Guilty but Mentally Insane.”  Texas doesn’t have it.

It sure sounds more appropriate.  And if it’s set up right, the defendant could get mental treatment and prison time as punishment for the actions.

The insanity defense is actually pretty rare.  It comes up in less than 1% of cases.  But when it does, we need to be sure the defendant gets needed treatment and the victim’s family and friends get a sense that justice was served.