Mental Disorder in the Criminal Process: Stan Stress and the Vietnam/Sports Conspiracy

Mental Disorder in the Criminal Process: Stan Stress and the Vietnam/Sports Conspiracy

Mental Disorder in the Criminal Process: Stan Stress and the Vietnam/Sports Conspiracy

Mental Disorder in the Criminal Process: Stan Stress and the Vietnam/Sports Conspiracy

Synopsis

With its short and lively case history, basic documents, and expert commentary, this text is an ideal teaching tool for all who want to evaluate for themselves how society deals with the mentally disordered in the criminal justice process. A chronological account of Stan Stress's important case and his obsessive belief in a Vietnam/sports conspiracy is interlaced with evaluations by lawyers, psychologists, and psychiatrists and with the authors' critiques and questions about key issues in the interface between law and psychiatry.

Excerpt

Our criminal justice system assumes that individuals have the capacity to make rational decisions. For example, a person charged with a crime decides whether to plead innocent or to plead guilty. If the accused pleads innocent, he or she is presumed to have the capacity to work cooperatively with counsel to prepare a defense to the criminal charge. If the accused is found guilty, the imposition of punishment is premised on the guilty person's ability to choose between socially acceptable and socially unacceptable behavior at the time of the criminal conduct.

When a criminal defendant is impaired by a mental disorder, the law's assumptions about his or her ability to make competent decisions and to exercise free will are challenged. When issues involving a defendant's mental condition arise, lawyers and judges call upon psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to address the extent to which the impairment affected the defendant's competence and exercise of free will. Nevertheless, the interjection of these professionals into the criminal trial process often confuses rather than clarifies issues. In part, the confusion is attributable to the mental health professional's training and perspective. For example, while the criminal law assumes the defendant's free will, most psychiatrists assume that the defendant's behavior is predetermined by psychological and biological factors.

This book traces the case history of Stanley Stress, a mentally disordered individual who became involved in the criminal justice system. The case involves many of the difficult issues for which the criminal trial process calls upon the expertise of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

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