Post-Hinckley insanity reform in Oregon.
S. M. Reichlin, J. D. Bloom and M. H. Williams,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
18(4): 405-12, 1990.
The 1983 Oregon legislature responded to public pressure to narrow the application of the insanity
defense by eliminating personality disordered individuals from consideration for an insanity verdict.
This article examined the effects of the statutory change, and found no significant change in the
frequency of insanity acquittals of personality disordered subjects between the three pre-reform years
(n = 21) and the three post-reform years (n = 14). We also reviewed how the Psychiatric Security
Review Board handled these patients once committed to their jurisdiction. We constructed a matched
comparison group of psychotic acquittees and found that in the pre-reform years the personality
disordered subjects spent less time in the system and less time in the hospital than the psychotic
patients. However, in the post-reform years their time in the system and time in the hospital was the
same as the psychotic controls. There were fewer decisions to discharge personality disordered
patients from the system after the reform, although this difference may be due to factors other than
the statutory reform itself. The conclusion is that narrowing the insanity defense is a worthy goal
which may be difficult to achieve.