Mentally disordered offenders and the law : Research update on the insanity defense, 2004–2019

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number101507
Journal / PublicationInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Online published21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


The insanity defense is among the most controversial legal constructs that has attracted the attention of scholars, practitioners and policy makers. Here, we conducted a systematic review of the literature spanning 2004 to 2019 that produced 58 studies of insanity defense research. Findings are organized according to: (1) assessments and assessment-related issues, (2) juror decision-making in defense trials, (3) characteristics of insanity acquittees, (4) release recommendations for insanity acquittees, (5) revocation of conditional release status of insanity acquittees, and (6) additional areas of insanity defense research. Implications of the research for the insanity defense and cognate legal issues are proffered.

Research Area(s)

  • Insanity defense, Insanity plea, Mentally disordered offenders, Psychopathology