Hot on the heels of sending psychpaths to prison indefinitely on account of their diagnosis, a Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses letting Aspie's and Autie's off the hook on account of their diagnosis. Under the headline "Asperger's presents new challenges to court system," the story of James Lee Troutman, a 24-year-old man who confessed to raping and murdering his 9-year-old neighbor:
The so-called Asperger's defense is cropping up in legal cases nationally, as lawyers argue that people with the disorder may be incapable of completely understanding the ramifications of their actions or expressing remorse in a socially acceptable way.Really? That's the scary part? I thought the scary part was remorseless aspie's running around raping and killing children and we send them back into the community with a slap on the wrist. It reminds me of the Langston Hughes poem:
Troutman's defense attorney, Craig Penglase, said his client told him he has Asperger's syndrome, a mild form of autism, a development disorder that causes significant delays in language and cognitive development.
Asperger's may become a factor with Troutman, who faces first- and second-degree murder and related offenses. A first-degree murder conviction could potentially carry a death penalty.
The disorder alone doesn't meet the standards for an insanity defense, but it could be a "profound" mitigating factor, information presented in court that could result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence, Penglase said.
The biggest challenge likely will be showing a human side to a man accused of a most inhumane crime. Especially before jurors who may be unfamiliar with autism disorders.
"It's difficult to explain to anyone, anything that is not part of their daily life," Penglase said. "If you don't have it in your life it's incredibly hard to appreciate it."
Sell agreed that convincing the general public that people with Asperger's may have little or no control over their impulsive behaviors or reactions is a challenge.
"People are (thinking), 'My God this person has no sympathy. What a horrible monster,' " he said. "No, that is how people with Asperger's commonly are. It doesn't mean they don't understand or feel what they did was wrong."
At least 22 U.S. criminal cases since 2002 involved convictions that were avoided, in part, because of an Asperger's syndrome diagnosis, according to the Autism Society of America. The survey is being updated, Sell said.
Generally, the courts take the disability into consideration during the penalty phase of a trial, Sell said.
"I have a feeling we have a lot prisoners in the general population with Asperger's that have not been diagnosed and are doing time right now, and they're not getting the appropriate help or supports," he added. "And that is scary."
That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.