Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness: Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict

Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness: Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict

Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness: Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict

Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness: Law and the Behavioral Sciences in Conflict

Synopsis

Hundreds of thousands of the inmates who populate the nation's jails and prison systems today are identified as mentally ill. Many experts point to the deinstitutionalization of mental hospitals in the 1960s, which led to more patients living on their own, as the reason for this high rate of incarceration. But this explanation does not justify why our society has chosen to treat these people with punitive measures.
In Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness, Patricia E. Erickson and Steven K. Erickson explore how societal beliefs about free will and moral responsibility have shaped current policies and they identify the differences among the goals, ethos, and actions of the legal and health care systems. Drawing on high-profile cases, the authors provide a critical analysis of topics, including legal standards for competency, insanity versus mental illness, sex offenders, psychologically disturbed juveniles, the injury and death rates of mentally ill prisoners due to the inappropriate use of force, the high level of suicide, and the release of mentally ill individuals from jails and prisons who have received little or no treatment.

Excerpt

You just loved crucifying me. You loved in
ducing cancer in my head, terrorizing my
heart and ripping my soul all the time.

—Virginia Tech killer Seung-Hui Cho*

AS THIS BOOK was nearing completion, a twenty-three-year old student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Seung-Hui Cho, killed thirty-two people and wounded fifteen others before committing suicide. The shootings took place on the Virginia Tech campus on April 18, 2007, in two episodes. Cho first shot two students in a dormitory; a few hours later he moved to a classroom building where he killed five faculty members and twenty-five more students before killing himself. In the ensuing investigation, police found eight pages of notes in Cho’s dorm room that law enforcement characterized as a suicide note. The note contained criticisms against people of privilege and Cho’s assertion that “you decided to spill my blood.” On April 18, 2007, NBC received a package from Cho time-stamped between the first and second shootings. It contained, photos, writings, and recorded videos in which Cho likened himself to Jesus Christ.

As the events unfolded at Virginia Tech, the shootings received extensive media coverage. Media discourse routinely

*From the photographs, video, and writings that Seung-Hui Cho
mailed to NBC between the two attacks on the Virginia Tech campus
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18188852/).

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.