The Insanity Defense for Serial Killers

on October 20, 2010 in Law Enforcement, Psychology by

Allyson L. Gay of Northeastern University has published a paper, Reforming the Insanity Defense: The Need for a Psychological Defect Plea. She calls for an expansion of the legal definition of insanity to address the psychopathic tendencies of many serial killers. She would rather they be committed so that they receive treatment.

I have the same concerns about this as I do about completely ceasing imposition of the death penalty: life in prison (or lifetime commitment) doesn’t always stick. Case in point, Kenneth Allen McDuff. He received three death penalties for his part in the Broomstick Murders. The death penalties were later commuted to life in prison, and then he was release due to prison overcrowding.

If he had instead spent his life in prison (or been executed as sentenced), Sarafia Parker, Brenda Thompson, Regenia DeAnne Moore, Colleen Reed, Valencia Joshua, and Melissa Northrup would not have died at his hands.

In any case, Gay does a great job of explaining the history of the insanity penalty in the United States, common misconceptions about it, and its relationship to serial murder.

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