The McNaughton Rules, which are used when someone pleads insanity at the time of a homicide, are out of date and unsatisfactory. Suggestions have been made about how the insanity defence can be reformulated. The preference of a defence of diminished responsibility means abandoning an ancient and humane principle of not convicting those who are so mentally disordered as not to be responsible for their actions. There is a need for Parliament to consider changes to the law both to prevent the mentally disordered being sent to prison inappropriately, and because the Mental Health Act 1983 has not taken account of rare cases where an offender such as an epileptic might be found legally insane but not mentally disordered.
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