Due Process is an exalted principle, but for people with severe mental illness, it most often fails to deliver moral justice. The entire apparatus of due process is engineered to punish clinical insanity. Insanity, as in NGRI, has become a radical notion…because the law has inauthentically defined it into obscurity.
Conventional wisdom asserts that the broken mental health system and mass reductions in hospital beds are reasons why our jails and prisons are filled by hundreds of thousands of people with serious mental illness – that correctional facilities have become de facto mental hospitals.
The criminal justice system operates under the law and nothing forces its hand. Even though a critical shortage in supported housing and a dysfunctional system of healthcare delivery is a tragically serious problem – and the states are fully accountable for their failures that deliver people into the hands of the criminal justice system, the criminal justice system is accountable for its own actions. The pressing of charges, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing are the exclusive cause for the mass incarceration of people with severe mental illness and consciousness disorders.
The least blameworthy of all accused persons are being convicted and punished unjustly because their neuropsychiatric disorders are beyond the comprehension of the vast majority of the populace – and because the predominant definition of insanity, M’Naghten’s Rule is dissonant with neuroscience. M’Naghten’s Rule is a dangerous legal instrument in the hands of jurors, prosecutors, and judges who profoundly misunderstand psychosis.
“Knowledge is essential to understanding and understanding should precede judging” …Justice Louis Brandeis