The Insanity Defense Reform Act (1980) was passed after widespread criticism in the wake of John Hinckley Jr’s acquittal for the attempted assassination of President Ronald Regan. A jury found that Hinckley was not guilty on grounds of insanity. In this way, the historical significance of this act was to change the way the defendants with mental disorders used the insanity defense (United States Department of Justice, 2017). The act was enacted to make it harder to be declared not guilty based on an insanity defense. It eliminated the choice that a defendant did not have the capacity to act according to the law. Through the act, a defendant can only be allowed an insanity defense if at the time of committing the crime, he/she had a severe mental defect and was unable to understand the nature or wrongfulness of one’s acts. Moreover, through this act, the burden of proving the insanity defense lies on the defendant to provide clear and convincing evidence. The act limited the use of expert testimony and removed the diminished capacity defense (United States Department of Justice, 2017).
An offender risk tool that is preferred in our rehabilitation program is criminal orientation. This tool measures the possible criminality patterns among youths such as impulsive or overly aggressive behavior. It mainly focuses on pro-criminal attitudes that an individual may be exhibiting, as well as signs of irresponsibility (Huss, 2008). The other tool used in our rehabilitation program is protective strength index (PSI) that focuses on conditions or factors such as strengths, skills and coping strategies of youths so that they can deal with stressful events better. The PSI tool lowers the chances of negative health outcomes from occurring among youths in our rehabilitation program. The tool has been designed in a way that the youth’s strengths both individually and in the family are enhanced as opposed to only focusing on correcting the negative things (Huss, 2008).
- Huss, M. (2008). Forensic psychology. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
United States Department of Justice. (2017). 637. Insanity—present statutory test—18 U.S.C. § 17(a). Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usam/criminal-resource-manual-637-insanity-present-statutory-test-18-usc-17a