The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

October 25, 2013

District Attorney David Prater wants guilty but insane verdict added to the books

ENID, Okla. — A proposal being discussed in legal circles has our attention, and our support.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater has said he would like to see a new option for jurors to consider in cases when a defendant says he is insane when the crime was committed.

Prater wants to see a verdict of guilty but insane added to the books.

As it stands now, state law permits defendants to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Those defendants say they are not responsible for their actions due to a psychiatric illness or mental disability.

Prater says that doesn’t give victims or their families closure. It doesn’t hold a defendant accountable for his actions.

The verdict of guilty but insane would hold a defendant accountable for a crime but not make him criminally responsible.

A defendant found guilty but insane would receive mandatory treatment at a mental health facility, just like those currently found not guilty by reason of insanity.

The main difference is that defendant also would have the accountability currently missing.

Garfield County District Attorney Mike Fields says he would support the proposal, if one is made.

There currently is no formal proposal before the Oklahoma Legislature.

Other states have similar guidelines, so Oklahoma would not be taking a big jump by itself with this proposal.

We certainly would like to see a proposal along these lines discussed. It’s an important issue that deserves a closer look.

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