Death Penalty for James Holmes?

Avatar for cmkristy
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Registered: 07-05-2005
Death Penalty for James Holmes?
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Mon, 04-01-2013 - 11:34am

DENVER — James Holmes, the man accused of shooting 70 people, killing 12, during a midnight attack at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater last summer, will likely learn Monday whether he’ll face execution if convicted.

Prosecutors from the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s office plan to announce in a 9 a.m. MT hearing if they’ll seek the death penalty, should the case go to trial. Monday’s decision follows last week’s legal theatrics in which Holmes’ defense team said it would enter a guilty plea if the district attorney settled on a life-in-prison sentence.

“It is Mr. Holmes’ position that this case could be resolved on April 1,” his public defenders announced last Wednesday in court filings posted online by the Denver Post. “Mr. Holmes made an offer to the prosecution to resolve this case by pleading guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison, without any opportunity for parole.”

Not only did prosecutors decline the guilty offer—first made prior to Holmes’ March 12 arraignment—but they also lambasted the defense for making it public.

Death penalty decision expected in James Holmes case- http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/death-penalty-decision-expected-james-holmes-case-113742034.html

What do you think will happen? Do you think he can (or should) face the death penalty?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 4:30pm

Nis,

My point was, it's always easy to look back and say .. ah, that behavior was a red flag or a sign. As you are doing now. You are stating a mental illness and rooting back to the symptoms. Yet, the symptoms alone are not necessarily alarming. No one needs a definition of what bipolar. :) Because, as I said, it's very easy to look back and ... ah, yes. But in reality, most of these symptoms could be anything or nothing.

And yet, that's not true for everyone. There are several types of bipolar disorder, and all involve episodes of mania and depression -- but to varying degrees.

Sorry, again, the examples you give, no one is claiming is true for everyone, but they do not appear to red flags. Driving erratically? Using credit cards excessively, out of control spending sprees .. yes, again, could mean something or nothing at all.

It would appear to be a daunting, if not impossible, task deciding who we should force into receiving help.

And yet, that's not true for everyone. There are several types of bipolar disorder, and all involve episodes of mania and depression -- but to varying degrees.

Believe ir not, I am actually educated in this field and you give excellent answers, however, your average parent or person is not going to know this. So many of these behaviors mimic age appropriate behavior. So, sure, I will say again, looking from the perspective of dx toward symptoms, it's very easy to identify. Starting with possible symptoms to potential problem is not. I don't think many psychologists would disagree with that unless you're dealing with a clear cut case.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 4:04pm

The acceptance of one needing helping can be difficult as well. Finding the appropriate help can be even more so. But also, many people seems perfectly normal with a few quirks ... right?

You are so right about this. The vast majority of people with mental illness find it difficult to seek help and difficult to find appropriate help. Those are the people who are reasonably normal but have a few quirks.

I have no idea what the percentages are, but I would guess that most people with schizophrenia or bipolar are capable of seeking and finding help, too.

Isn't it ironic though? Those people - the ones who seek help - are not the people who go on to commit mass murder. Yet those people are the ones who are being profiled in the "background check" rhetoric of gun control. IMO, the background check rhetoric is simply a euphemism for scapegoating people with mental illness. I find it misguided, at best.

The people who commit mass murder tend to be the people with anosognosia. They are seriously thought disordered perhaps manic or delusional. Those people are not going to be flagged in the misguided profiling. For starters they don't believe that they are in need of help. In addition, most of the mass shooters have been young males. There is a strong possibility that their mental illness formed within a short period of time before the shootings. It is not like major mental illness forms slowly over time beginning in childhood. It tends to come on suddenly (over weeks or months) in early adulthood. They are not likely to have been be the trouble-making kids in schools or on anybody's radar.

So yeah. Dealing with major mental illness, mass shootings, anosognosia, Assisted Treatment, are all complex issues.

But they are, IMO, quite removed from every day gun violence and the "evil" that the commenters in the article were discussing.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 3:43pm

How would anyone be able to monitor this and wouldn't this infringe on people's freedom? Just because someone "seems" to be anything, doesn't make it so.

Very true. Monitoring and assessing are extremely difficult.

Also, as you said, most people experiencing psychosis, won't harm anyone else.

I do not think that involuntary treatment should be reserved for people who are only a harm to themselves or others. There are other situations in which treatment is merited.  I think the criteria should be broadened.

From Treatment Advocacy Center:

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/problem/consequences-of-non-treatment


The National Institute of Mental Illness (NIMH) in 2010 estimated that 7.7 million Americans suffer from schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder - approximately 3.3% of the US population when combined. Of these, approximately 40% of the individuals with schizophrenia and 51% of those with bipolar are untreated in any given year.

how to force people into getting help?

One reasonable proposal is Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Again, from TAC:

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/solution/assisted-outpatient-treatment-laws
Forty-four states permit the use of assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), also called outpatient commitment. AOT is court-ordered treatment (including medication) for individuals who have a history of medication noncompliance, as a condition of their remaining in the community. Studies and data from states using AOT prove that it is effective in reducing the incidence and duration of hospitalization, homelessness, arrests and incarcerations, victimization, and violent episodes. AOT also increases treatment compliance and promotes long-term voluntary compliance, while reducing caregiver stress.

I would think the first rule someone receiving constructive therapy, would be they are willing to receive it and want the help.

Again from TAC:

Voluntary treatment for any medical condition is always desirable. However, the nature of severe mental illness is that it attacks the brain - the very organ central to the capacity for making a choice. As a result, every state has established civil commitment laws and standards to empower the court to order individuals with untreated severe mental illness into treatment.

Not being aware of any illness as explained by NAMI:

http://www.nami.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Mental_Illnesses/Schizophrenia9/Anosognosia_Fact_Sheet.htm

Anosognosia - When a person cannot appreciate that they have a serious psychiatric illness, a tremendous challenge to family members and caregivers follows. About one-half of people living with schizophrenia, and a smaller percentage who live with bipolar disorder, have this clinical feature. Individuals with Alzheimer's disease and dementia also often have this feature. The medical term for not seeing what ails you is anosognosia, or more commonly known as a lack of insight. Having a lack of awareness raises the risks of treatment and service nonadherence. From the person's point of view, if they feel they are not ill why should they go to appointments, take medication or engage in therapy?

Described again here by Xavier Amador:

http://www.citinternational.org/mental-illness/145-anosognosia-lack-of-insight.html

Nearly everyone is aware of the problem:  Many people with mental illness deny that they are ill, and therefore refuse treatment. Most people understand the psychological concept of denial, which is a refusal to believe an uncomfortable truth. Who hasn't heard a heavy drinker, eater, smoker, or drug user say, "I can quit any time I want."

 Anosognosia is quite different. It is not simply denial of a problem, but thegenuine inabilityto recognize that the problem exists.  It is a common consequence of brain injuries, and occurs to varying degrees in such disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer's disease.  It is, in fact, a symptom of some disorders.

 This obscure word, which is pronounced "uh-no-sog-no-zha," means "unawareness of illness," and is often the basis for a person with mental illness not wanting to take medication or treatment.

 Someone who has anosognosia isn't being difficult, or refusing to face the truth. He is literally unableto believe that his illness is, in fact, an illness.....

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 3:25pm

I am mean if we forced Americans into treatment simply because they rack up credit cards

No, having significant credit card debt is not what I am referring to. I am referring to excessive and impulsive credit card spending by people who are experiencing mania - the high part of bipolar.

Irrational credit card spending is a known sign of bipolar. WebMD explains it like this:

http://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/features/bipolar-disorder-managing-mania

There's no denying the exhilaration that mania brings. For many with bipolar disorder, there's a period of denial -- a disbelief that the wonderful surge of energy and euphoria marks a disease that truly needs treatment.

"Mania is a fascinating thing ... it's the brain creating its own hormonal high," says Carrie Bearden, PhD, a clinical neuropsychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA. "Most people first become manic in their early 20s, at a time in life when they're not thinking about death, when they feel immortal."

Indeed, some degree of risky business is the hallmark of mania. Erratic driving and out-of-control spending sprees are common. It's a time when flashy business ideas are borne, torrents of phone calls made.

And yet, that's not true for everyone. There are several types of bipolar disorder, and all involve episodes of mania and depression -- but to varying degrees.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-17-2003
Sat, 04-06-2013 - 8:14am

Personally, I think that people who seem to be psychotic should be able to be FORCED into "treatment" BEFORE they do something regretable

How would anyone be able to monitor this and wouldn't this infringe on people's freedom? Just because someone "seems" to be anything, doesn't make it so. Also, as you said, most people experiencing psychosis, won't harm anyone else. Your example, like racking up credit cards .... most Americans do that, doesn't make them psychotic.

I think they should have the opportunity to have treatment, even if they are unaware that they need it, BEFORE things get really bad.

Again, how to force people into getting help? I would think the first rule someone receiving constructive therapy, would be they are willing to receive it and want the help.

Jams speaks of the elephant in the room and to some degree she might be right. The acceptance of one needing helping can be difficult as well. Finding the appropriate help can be even more so. But also, many people seems perfectly normal with a few quirks ... right? I am mean if we forced Americans into treatment simply because they rack up credit cards, nearly all Americans would be in need of therapy.

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 12:29pm

I do not believe that Adam Lanza has because a celebrity in any positive way. I do think that for some reason the media and/or public has expressed a somewhat more compassionate understanding of mental illness and its impact on families recently. The comments in the orginal link were not reflective of that change.

I would have no idea how to go about assessing a "fair punishment" for a person's behavior while they were experiencing delusions or hallucinations. IMO those symptoms can so completely disrupt normal thought processes that "responsibility", "accountability" "culpability"  etc are extraordinarily difficult to discern - probably impossible. Therefore, I think the death penalty is inappropriate for people with serious mental illness, ie delusions, hallucinations.

I would have less difficulty discerning responsibilty for one's actions if the actions were brought on by substance abuse. For example, a person gets drunk, drives and kills someone. If they did it twice, I say death penalty is a reasonable option. In that case the person brings about the disordered thinking by taking the action of drinking alcohol.

For some people the disordered thinking happens for no apparent reason and part of the disordered thinking includes a belief that nothing is wrong. How does one assess what a fair punishment is for a person whose thinking quite suddenly becomes disordered and whose actions are based on unrealistic beliefs? Is it "fair" in your opinion to pretend that the person was unhindered by delusions and to hold them accountable as if they did not have delusions? How is that consistent with a "there but for the grace of god go I" motto?

Avatar for jamblessedthree
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Registered: 10-23-2001
Fri, 04-05-2013 - 6:39am
There but for the grace of God go I is certainly a motto I could adopt, And I agree that ANYONE is susceptible to mental illness. Where society goes wrong IMO is turning an Adam Lanza into a celebrity which just sensationalizes the issue. I do believe he deserves as fair of a punishment for what he did as anybody else, You obviously don't.

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 9:46pm

But I do think his illness was probably treated like an elephant in the room

Hmm. Sounds more like a judgment than an observation that any family would treat it like an elephant in the room. Not sure what you mean, though.

We aren't doing anyone any favors when we only call mental illness the patient's problem.

ITA.  I think that we as a society treat mental illness as an isolated incident for which an individual is personally accountable. We'd be way better off if we realized that anyone member of our society is susceptible to a serious mental illness as they approach early adulthood. We'd be way better off if we adopted that attitude, "There but for the grace of God go I" and supported serious mental illness in any way possible.

Avatar for jamblessedthree
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Registered: 10-23-2001
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 8:34pm

I didn't say his family "caused" his illness or this crime, Nobody is responsible for anybody else's actions! But I do think his illness was probably treated like an elephant in the room, We'll never know exactly b/c that stuff is private. We aren't doing anyone any favors when we only call mental illness the patient's problem.

 

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Tue, 04-02-2013 - 3:40pm

"my bet is there's a lot of unspoken issues in the family."

I'm not sure what you mean. I do not believe that family issues cause mental illness. I do believe that mental illness creates family issues.

I haven't had a chance to read it yet but Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree is supposed to compare various disabilities and psychosis/delusions, in his opinion, are singularly awful.