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Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness

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

Patricia E. Erickson
Steven K. Erickson
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 238
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  • Book Info
    Crime, Punishment, and Mental Illness
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4508-0
    Subjects: Law, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Chapter 1 The Social Construction of Mental Illness as a Criminal Justice Problem
    (pp. 1-22)

    On April 28, 2000, Richard S. Baumhammer, a thirty-four-year-old immigration lawyer, got into his Jeep with a .357 caliber handgun and a bag of shells. In seventy-two minutes, five people were dead and one critically injured. Baumhammer, who is white, shot his Jewish neighbor, two men from India, and a black man as he drove his Jeep through suburban Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stopping twice to vandalize synagogues. After his arrest, the court determined that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial and ordered him to Mayview State Hospital for treatment. Defense attorneys indicated that once Baumhammer’s mental health improved, they would...

  6. Chapter 2 Systems of Social Control: From Asylums to Prisons
    (pp. 23-49)

    On January 3, 1999, during the evening rush hour, Andrew Goldstein, a man with a long history of schizophrenia, waited anxiously for the next subway to arrive at the Twenty-third Street station in Manhattan. Also waiting was a young receptionist, Kendra Webdale, a recent transplant from her hometown of Buffalo, New York. Suddenly, as the subway rushed into the station, Goldstein shoved Webdale onto the tracks, where she was killed instantly. Goldstein quietly waited for the police arrive and was booked that night for the murder.

    As the days and months went by, many questioned how such an event could...

  7. Chapter 3 Competency to Stand Trial and Competency to Be Executed
    (pp. 50-78)

    On the morning of December 14, 1994, Ralph Tortorici stormed into a lecture hall at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany campus. Dressed in military fatigues and armed with a semi-automatic rifle, eighty rounds of ammunition, and a hunting knife, he took hostage a group of students. After yelling “Stop government experimentation,” Tortorici demanded to see both the governor of New York State and the president of the SUNY educational system. He threatened to kill his hostages and fired the rifle at a projection screen. After a two-hour standoff, several of the students overpowered him. During the...

  8. Chapter 4 The Problems with the Insanity Defense: The Conflict between Law and Psychiatry
    (pp. 79-114)

    On June 20, 2001, at 9:48 a.m., Andrea Yates called 911 and asked for assistance. She also called her husband at work and told him that he needed to come home, but would not say why. When her husband asked if anyone was hurt, Andrea Yates responded that the kids were hurt. He asked, “Which ones?” She responded, “All of them.” Within minutes of her 911 call, several police officers arrived at the Yates home and discovered four dead children, soaking wet, covered with a sheet, lying on Andrea Yates’s bed. The fifth child was still in the bathtub, floating...

  9. Chapter 5 The “Mad” or “Bad” Debate Concerning Sex Offenders
    (pp. 115-134)

    John Geoghan was a former Catholic priest and a convicted child molester. He was a key figure in the Roman Catholic sex abuse cases that arose in the Boston Archdiocese in the 1990s and early 2000s. More than 130 people claimed that Geoghan abused them, most when they were boys enrolled in various Boston-area parish schools. The sexual assaults began shortly after Geoghan’s ordination as a priest in 1962.

    The Catholic Church received complaints about Geoghan’s pedophilia. Following these complaints, the Church would quietly place Geoghan on sick leave and order him to undergo psychotherapy for his pedophilic sexual impulses....

  10. Chapter 6 Juvenile Offenders, Developmental Competency, and Mental Illness
    (pp. 135-175)

    On May 20, 1998, at the age of fifteen, Kip Kinkel killed his parents in their home. The next day he walked into his high school cafeteria and sprayed students with fifty rounds from a semiautomatic rifle, killing two students and wounding twenty-five others. Although Kinkel was fifteen, the state of Oregon prosecuted him as an adult. Three days before trial, Kinkel accepted a plea agreement and therefore abandoned the possibility of an acquittal based on a defense of insanity. The judge sentenced him to more than 111 years in prison, without any chance of parole.

    The judge handed down...

  11. Chapter 7 Criminalizing Mental Illness: Does It Matter?
    (pp. 176-194)

    On February 6, 1987, a jury found Anthony Capozzi, a schizophrenic, guilty of raping two women in 1983 and 1984. The trial judge sentenced him to eleven to thirty-five years in prison. On April 2, 2007, Judge Shirley Troutman threw out the rape convictions after DNA evidence linked the crimes to another man. Capozzi spent twenty years in Attica Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison, for crimes he did not commit. During his incarceration, the New York State Parole Board denied him parole five times since he became eligible in 1997, because his refusal to admit the crimes made it impossible...

  12. References
    (pp. 195-210)
  13. Index
    (pp. 211-218)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 219-220)