Showing posts with label legal system. Show all posts
Showing posts with label legal system. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

"Temporary Insanity" Is a Legal Term But Not A Valid Psychological Concept

This is a short summation of the circumstances surrounding the first ever implementation of the legal defense known as "temporary insanity:"

George Reimus built a massive bootlegging empire during prohibition. His wife was by his side during his ascent to becoming a major kingpin and he provided her with anything she ever wanted.
Reimus gets sent to prison for a short 2 year prison term. He left her in charge of his entire empire while he was incarcerated. She was his soulmate and he trusted her completely, without hesitation.
His wife starts sleeping with a new man. Within 6 months, she sold all of her husband's assets, stole all his money, and filed for divorce.
Upon his release, George was driving to his divorce hearing when he spotted his wife in another car. He forced her car off the road, then shot and killed her. He immediately turned himself in and admitted to the murder.
At his trial, he pleaded temporary insanity and won. He said this afterwards: 
It was a duty I owed society. She who dances down the primrose path must die on the primrose path. I'm happy, this is the first piece of mind I've had in years - George Reimus

The problem with this defense is the fact that it's simply not real. 

"Temporary insanity" is a legal term but isn't at all a real psychological phenomenon. In fact, in reality, there is no sanity or insanity or even a "real you." There are just moment to moment brain states which are a result of biological, chemical, physiological, environmental, etc factors.

That guy wasn't "temporarily insane." His behaviour was the end result of a specific set of factors which were in play the moment he saw his wife; the reason he had never acted that way before was simply because he has never been in that situation before. Just like when an otherwise "friendly dog" attacks someone. They aren't insane in that moment; they were acting on circumstances that hadn't been in play prior to that moment.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

5 Ways To Improve A Legal System/The Law

1) Judge the law less by its effect on case by case situations and more so by its effect on society as a whole.

-Increase in the ability to file law suits was implemented, supposedly, to increase power held by "the little guy" and to 'check' the behaviour of the 'big guy.' Only problem is, this has had unintended systemic effects
-For example, the increase in medical culpability has actually diminished doctors' propensity to act, decreasing the quality of healthcare

2) Simplify the law.

-If the law is too complicated to internalize, people lose faith in the law
-The golden rule is and always has been a great basis for law

3) Re-humanize the law.

-Give cops and judges the opportunity to apply their discretion (like they used to be able to) so individuals are not swallowed up by harsh, unflinching laws meant to curb societal problems

4) Have the law informed by science, not emotion and propaganda. Evidence based law, like medicine. Especially drug laws

5) Refocus the law and associated punishments. What exactly is their aim and are we acting outside of it?

-If you're in court, looking at say 5 years in jail for a drug infraction and you ask the judge "who exactly did I hurt here?" and they have no answer other than "yourself" or "the law is the law" we have a problem
-We need to rethink prison and ask ourselves if it is really the only possible way of doing things