Injustices are found everywhere, including inside the court room

By Leanne Pantone
March 14, 2002

We say that we have equality, which seems to be true, but only in theory. In reality, there are injustices everywhere you turn. It appears that everything is a barrier. Women do not get paid as much as men. Skin color might decide the job that a person gets, even if he or she is the less qualified person.

Many injustices are apparent in the courtroom. For example, the whole deal with insanity. As far as I understand it, if someone is declared insane by a court of law, then he or she is given treatment in an institution. That’s great for the convicted person, but what happened to the crime that was committed? It doesn’t just disappear.

If someone who is not insane commits a crime like murder and is found guilty, a sentence must be paid. There is not any treatment or arrangements made. The punishment that is given to the defendant stands.

Why isn’t that the case for someone who is insane as well? Let’s say that another murder was committed and the person who killed someone was declared insane. Therefore, treatment for the insanity is given. However, what happened to the crime? It is still there. It was still committed. I do not understand why the person who is found guilty by reason of insanity is excused for a crime that he or she committed.

Although insanity is rarely used in trials, I still do not think it is okay. It is not fair to the victims or to the rest of society. Once a person is diagnosed insane and committed to get help, he or she is free to be out on the street after reaching a sane state. I do not think it is right and I have a problem with it, especially in the recent case with Andrea Yates.

This woman drowned her five children in the bathtub in Texas. Obviously there is something wrong with her. Apparently, she suffers from postpartum depression, which is no surprise for anyone. The lawyers are saying she did not know what she was doing when she killed her kids.

I do not think this excuse pardons someone for his or her actions. Just because someone was unaware or did not know what was being done ignores the fact that a crime was committed. I do not care if the person is insane or not, he or she is a threat to society, and I think that criminal charges should apply.

With Yates, I think that she should be tried for murder because that is the crime that she committed. She should be tried just like anyone else would be, and she should have to pay the price. If she is declared insane, then let her get treatment in the jail cell and remain there until her time is up, even if during her treatment she becomes sane.

Nevertheless, I do not think that insanity should be a legal term. I believe that everyone should be tried equally for the crime that they commit. The mental state of that person should not be a factor in the trial. Let him or her get treatment in prison and remain there even if the person becomes sane.

The potential for someone who commits a crime to be able to return to society after they become sane is not fair. I think that people wouldn’t feel safe if that happened somewhere near where they lived. I personally just do not think that justice is served by doing that. It is almost as if it’s better to be found guilty by reason of insanity because you get treatment, then you are off, free. I don’t think it’s right, and I don’t think that our country should use the legal term insanity any longer.

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Leanne Pantone

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