JURI 3246 Literature Review Essay

Submitted By tbeaudoin17
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JURI 3246 Literature Review
The Nexus of Law and Mental Health: Criminally Insane Women
Talisa Beaudoin
Laurentian University

The nexus of law and health of Canadian women can be seen in varying degrees, the degrees in which they are seen are crucial to the distribution of sentences for criminal offences. The highest form of mental disorder defense is known previously as criminal insanity, now it is known as not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. Although not categorized as defenses, there are other mental disorders correlating to criminal offences committed by women in relation to their defences and sentencing. Mental health disorders such as postpartum psychosis, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), rape trauma syndrome and battered women syndrome are found in relation to women who have been tried for criminal offences. In reviewing the five following articles, we can determine how these author’s ideas further our knowledge of the relationship between the law and mental health of woman criminals in Canada, from past to present. In the dated article, Battered Women and the Defence of Provocation, Tim Quigley attempts to examine women who kill their husbands after sustaining profound abuse, along with the legal liability that follows. In determining the legal liability of these women, Quigley seeks to determine if women who kill as result of abuse are at a disadvantage of defending themselves using current law. The author explores the use of self-defence for battered women as a failing defence. He then suggests the possibility of using the defence of provocation as a better alternative. After examining the legal necessities of both defences and comparing one another, the author concludes that the defence of provocation may in fact be a more suitable defence for women who kill in relation to prolonged abuse. In his article, and with reference to psychological findings, Quigley expresses the idea that “the woman who had been repeatedly abused can suffer profound psychological and emotional effects” (Quigley, 228). The author’s commentary on the psychological aspect of reasoning behind criminal behaviour illustrates his depiction of woman criminality as a result of mental health issues. A lot of older work that attempts to understand the increase of women offences relates primarily to the idea that women commit crimes because of some psychological problem or the idea that women commit crimes due to insanity. Quigley’s article, much like other articles written around that time do grasp an idea that may be somewhat accurate, however; these articles fail to explore the more complex reasoning’s behind female offences. Although it is accurate that women who experience traumatic events are likely to experience mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder, it is not likely that all women who are subject to abuse could be described psychologically as “insane.” More recent work on the topic of mental health and women offenders explore contrasting viewpoints as to why there has been an increase in woman criminality. In a more recent article, Constituting the Violence of Criminalized Women, author’s Elizabeth Comack and Salena Brickey discuss research they conducted in order to diminish the female violence stereotypes of “victim,” “mad,” or “bad.” The author’s conducted their research by interviewing female violent offenders. This research gave women charged with violent crimes the ability to represent themselves apart from the typical stereotypes. The authors were then able to compare and contrast their findings with the typical stereotypes about women offenders. In conclusion, the author’s found that the women had difficulty attributing their own experiences with violence to the confinement of these discourses. In this article, the authors’ illustrate the idea that there are other reasons as to why women commit violent crimes