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Crime and Mental Illness

The association between mental illness and crime has been a complex issue of ancient medical and policy importance; time after time relating researches have ignited debates and heated arguments which have had positive implications for both health and criminal justice systems.

Factually a crime is defined as an intentional act of violating criminal law with no justification or defense and punishable as a misdemeanor or felony by the state. Misdemeanors are crimes that are punishable by imprisonment of not more than one year, while Felonies are crimes that are punishable by confinement for an year and above.

Mental illness collectively refers to all diagnosable mental disorders, it can be defined as a psychological syndrome in an individual and can be associated with a recurring or present disability (e.g., impairment of important areas of functioning).Mental disorder may basically be classified as natural/generic (schizophrenia, major affective disorders, bipolar

Disorders and psychotic conditions) or substance abuse mental disorders.

A crime can be deemed as mental illness only if the defendant lacked sufficient capacity to tell the criminality of their acts as per the law because of mental defects. The defendant may use insanity as a defense, but there has to be sufficient prove of medical records and an examination report of psychiatric test run by double qualified state assigned medical practitioners/psychiatrists.

The criminal justice system in this scenario should consider a rational approach to the matter by first establishing the mental condition of the defendant, For example, in a murder trial the focus of the initial inquiry should be, whether the defendant intention was to kill the victim rather than, "Could he tell right from wrong and could he control his behavior?" If, despite his mental disorder, the defendant well knew he was strangling a human being and intended to kill him or her, he or she could be held criminally responsible for murder and can be convicted.

Separate proceeding should be held where psychiatrists may testify with no constraints of formal rules regarding to evidence and at which the judge could be informed of the kind of treatment required by the defendant. At this point the judge would then go ahead to sentence the individual to treatment in a mental hospital, put him or her to probation on condition, i.e., that the defendant should regularly visit a psychiatrist, or attend any other program that the testimony outlined would be helpfully appropriate and in accordance with the country's or state's law.