Biological Behavior

Biological Criminal Behavior CJA/314 December 12, 2011 Biological Criminal Behavior Significant genetic and psychological evidence exists that supports the notion that biology played a role in explaining Mr. Hinckley’s crime of the attempted assignation of President Ronald Reagan by in 1981, including seriously injuring to three other people. According to Schmalleger (2012), “The shape of a person’s skull corresponds to the shape of the underlying brain and is therefore indicative of the personality, (p. 9). Because of the actions of John Hinckley Congress enacted changes to the law that affected the way defense attorneys used the insanity defense in order to protect their clients in court due to concerns that some defendants had no metal disorders, and others were classified as having personality disorders. Those who support the mens rea approach argue that if the courts had considered Hinckley’s mental culpability he would have likely been found guilty because they claim he was clear about his intentions.
The notes Hinckley left for film star Jodie Foster showed how disturbed he was. John Hinckley reportedly admitted that he was fantasizing about the life of a character in a famous movie. This article went on to explain that Hinckley suffered from other physical ailments that caused significant weight gain and also required prescriptions such as Valium, antidepressants, and antihistamines.
In addition, “At his trial the defense successfully won a battle to introduce a CAT-scan test showing the widened suici of the brain found, according to one defense psychiatrist, in one of three schizophrenics” (Carrithers, 1985, p. 24, para 7). During Hinckley’s trial the prosecution and defense both argued that he suffered from clinical issues such as paranoid personality disorder, depressive neurosis, process schizophrenia, or dysthymic disorder. The legislation passed by Congress relating to Hinckley’s insanity plea was aimed at protecting the rights of the mentally ill and of society.

Now the defense has to prove that their client is psychotic, but are not mad creatures if they want to claim insanity. Incredibly, John Hinckley was recently in the news because the courts are currently contemplating about whether or not to release him into the custody of his mother who is elderly. Evidently the issue was serious enough for the federal government to get involved. For example, “Earlier this year U. S. Secret Service agents observed John Hinckley Jr. the man who shot President Ronald Reagan and three other men in a 1981 assassination attempt,  go to a bookstore to read about President Reagan and presidential assassinations (ABC, 2011, p. 1, para 1). References ABC. (2011). Blogs. Retrieved from, http://abcnews. go. com/blogs/politics/2011/11/prosecutors-argue-against-john-hinckley-jr-release/ Carrithers, D. W. (1985). The Insanity Defense and Presidential Peril. Society, 22(5), 23-27. Schmalleger, F. (2012). Criminology today: An interactive introduction. (6th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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