Need a perfect paper? Place your first order and save 5% with this code:   SAVE5NOW

Gender Matters in the Insanity Defense.


The legal strategy implored to show that an individual was not in the right state of mind when the crime was committed and, therefore, should not be held liable is referred to as the insanity plea (Adjorlolo et al., 2019). In the contemporary world, regarding changes being made to law and sentencing punishment, a defendant’s mental state is extensively considered before judgment. These guarantees ensure the defendants’ right to a fair trial. In addition to this, individuals who are identified as misfits in society due to mental health complications can be offered healing and provision of necessary treatment. Nevertheless, while delving into the role that gender might play in influencing the insanity defense; it is clear that it has an enormous impact on women’s perspectives and understanding attributable to its result. More notably, gender greatly influences the insanity trials as a result of the misconceptions, myths, biases and societal stereotypes regarding mental disorders (Mclaughlin, 2020). On this note, the insanity plea is likely to be successful because, in the ensuing case, gender dynamics are more critical as it unfolds that certain judges decide based on a persona who opts for such cases. This case study examines the stereotypes that support gender bias and other vital factors that influence the outcome of the insanity trials.

Summary of study

Uncovering whether the opinions held by jurors affected their decision to accept the insanity plea based on the gender of the defendant formed the basis of this study. Before the investigation was conducted, assumptions were made whereby women would find female defendants guilty during the insanity trials as opposed to male defendants. From the results garnered, Female defendants, accounting for 38.1%, were found to be not criminally responsible due to mental disorders (NCRMD) by women jurors, while men accounted for 60%.

In the case of male jurors, women and male defendants were found NCRMD by 40% and 36.5%, respectively (Breheney et al., p.) This demonstrates that women were less likely to attribute the actions of defendants to mental illness than men.

The study results revealed that individual perception about the insanity plea is highly determined by public attitudes as far as stereotypes and gender of both jurors are concerned.


After a thorough analysis, it was discovered that gender has minimal impact on the outcome of the verdict when it comes to the insanity defense. Attitudes that are anti-NCRMD dominated the stereotypes surrounding gender. This is because the majority of the defendants were believed to be responsible for their actions regardless of the state of their mental health. The insanity defense is yet to be accepted by the majority, as many see it as a way for defendants to avert responsibility for their criminal actions. For a defendant to take the insanity plea, the rationality of the mental illness, the family’s responsibility, the relationship between the victim and the defendant, and the professionality and credibility of the psychiatrist have to be scrutinized. Stereotypes surrounding mental health affect people’s perceptions of defendants who have mental illness as they are seen as a danger to society. Regardless of gender, most people are afraid of individuals suffering from mental disorders. Therefore, for the insanity plea to be entirely accepted, substantial evidence by psychiatrists and investigators must be provided so defendants can get leniency (Nakonechny, 2023). In terms of perceptions, women jurors had a higher chance of arguing that the defendants were faking their mental conditions as opposed to the men. The misconceptions held by women show that they view the insanity of defendants as a way to plead NCRMD instead of facing the full force of the law.

The study presents its facts from a subjective viewpoint. However, the inconsistencies arising from the research affected its quality and, consequently, the outcome due to incorporating the thematic analysis. Furthermore, using analysis methods led to researcher bias, which significantly altered the results of the findings. Despite that, the insanity defense must only be taken when an individual is diagnosed with a mental health disorder, regardless of their gender.


Assessing the defendant’s mental state is crucial to determining the ruling that should be issued. Defendants, regardless of gender, should be accorded a fair trial, especially if they are suffering from mental disorders. It is, therefore, essential to eliminate the biases and prejudices surrounding mental conditions and the stereotypes surrounding gender. The insanity plea should, therefore, not be used as a means of defending criminals but as a tool for ensuring defendants who suffer from mental health problems acquire the treatment needed and receive a fair sentence.


Adjorlolo, S., Chan, H. C. O., & DeLisi, M. (2019). Mentally disordered offenders and the law: Research update on the insanity defense, 2004–2019. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, p. 67, 101507.

Breheney, C. & Groscup, J. & Galietta, Michele. (2007). Gender matters in the insanity defense. Law & Psychol. Rev.. 31. 93-123.

McLaughlin, K. J. (2020). Mad and bad? Jurors’ attitudes towards women and men who plead insanity (Doctoral dissertation, Carleton University).


Don't have time to write this essay on your own?
Use our essay writing service and save your time. We guarantee high quality, on-time delivery and 100% confidentiality. All our papers are written from scratch according to your instructions and are plagiarism free.
Place an order

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Copy to clipboard
Need a plagiarism free essay written by an educator?
Order it today

Popular Essay Topics