Term Paper: Criminal Justice Classifying Serial Killers as Legally

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Criminal Justice

Classifying serial killers as legally insane is tricky. On the one hand, any serial killer is clearly sociopathic or psychopathic based on their unfeeling disregard for their victims. Many would easily be diagnosed with other mental illnesses like schizophrenia. On the other hand, mental illness is not insanity. Insanity is usually defined for legal purposes much as incompetence is defined for medical purposes: as complete detachment from reality or inability to make a sensible decision. Thus, a serial killer might be mentally deranged but not actually insane.

For example, they know that what they are doing is against the law; they are not detached from reality in that sense. They cover up their tracks and their crime to avoid getting caught. If interrogated they can lie well, and frequently make up stories so as to appear mentally ill. They do this in the hopes that appearing mentally ill will make a judge or jury grant them an insanity plea. An insane… [END OF PREVIEW]

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