Nevada Lawmakers Review Insanity-Defense Releases


Nevada legislators are reviewing state laws regarding the insanity defense in criminal cases and misuse of the early release program by the Department of Corrections, says the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “This is a starting point,” said Assemblyman William Horne, chairman of the Legislative Commission’s new subcommittee formed in the 2005 session.

Robbin Trowbridge-Benko traveled her home in Indiana to ask the panel to reform state laws regarding criminal insanity pleas. Her son, John Trowbridge, 23, was stabbed to death by a man who later was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Trowbridge-Benko successfully opposed his release. Under Nevada law, a person found not guilty by reason of insanity can be held only until no longer determined to be a “mentally ill person.” In a hearing yesterday, she suggested that the panel look at separating the issues of guilt and mental competence. She advocated a bifurcated process where jurors first decide guilt or innocence and then go on to hear arguments on a defendant’s mental state.


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