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“So Sick He Deserves It”: Desert, Dangerousness, and Character in the Context of Capital Sentencing

“So Sick He Deserves It”: Desert, Dangerousness, and Character in the Context of Capital Sentencing

Chapter:
(p.259) 14 “So Sick He Deserves It”: Desert, Dangerousness, and Character in the Context of Capital Sentencing
Source:
Action, Ethics, and Responsibility
Author(s):
Robert F. Schopp
Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262014731.003.0014

This chapter focuses on the concept of criminal responsibility and how its discussion can lead to conclusions regarding the most defensible standard for categorizing offenders as either criminally responsible or not guilty due to insanity. Psychological disorder is sometimes a factor which leads to a preclusion of criminal responsibility, but the statutes recognize that psychopathology can vary in type and degree. Therefore, some capital sentencing statutes only treat psychological disorder as a mitigating circumstance that renders an offender less culpable but, to a certain extent, still criminally responsible. The main question the chapter attempts to address is whether any circumstance can be identified wherein an offender can be considered “so sick he deserves it.” A relevant conception of the term “sick” is examined here in relation to the claim that offenders can deserve punishment or more severe punishment if they are sick in this sense.

Keywords:   criminal responsibility, insanity, psychological disorder, psychopathology, mitigating circumstance, sick

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