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United States v. Freeman


Brief Fact Summary. The defense of insanity is discussed.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The recognized purposes of criminal law are not satisfied by punishing someone who is mentally incompetent.

Facts. The facts of the case are not discussed only the reasons for the defense of insanity.

Issue. What purpose is served in punishing the mentally incompetent?

Held. Criminal law serves the main purposes of rehabilitation, deterrence, and retribution. An incompetent individual cannot be rehabilitated in prison. An incompetent individual is unable to control his actions and therefore “undeterrable.” Society cannot be satisfied when an incompetent is punished. Otherwise, society would degenerate into revenge.

Discussion. Insanity is available as a defense, as the punishment of incompetents does not serve the stated purposes of criminal law, namely rehabilitation, deterrence, and retribution.

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