A recent story by Time Magazine suggested that James and Kimberly Snead — the couple who took in alleged Parkland, Florida, shooter Nikolas Cruz after his adopted mother died after contracting pneumonia — “didn’t know” that Nikolas Cruz had a mental illness. According to them, Cruz — who, through his public defender Howard Finkelstein, said that he would plead guilty to all the charges if the prosecutors took the death penalty off the table — had, indeed, kept guns in the home, but they were under lock and key, and they insisted that he practice gun safety.
The Sneads have said that they will cooperate with prosecutors.
In response, this writer decided to take a look at the most common misconceptions about both mental illness and the definition of being legally insane.
Nikolas Cruz’s “Mental Illness” Wouldn’t Make Him More Violent, According to Science
Because of Nikolas Cruz’s alleged act — and other violent acts wherein the perpetrator claimed “mental illness” as an affirmative defense — people tend to equate the mentally ill with being violent. But according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, not only is there no correlation between mental illness and violence, but the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of violent crime, not perpetrators of violent crime.
“Most individuals with serious mental illness are not dangerous. Most acts of violence are committed by individuals who are not mentally ill. Individuals with serious mental illness are victimized by violent acts more often than they commit violent acts. Being a young male or a substance abuser (alcohol or drugs) is a greater risk factor for violent behavior than being mentally ill. No evidence suggests that people with serious mental illness receiving effective treatment are more dangerous than individuals in the general population. That being said, a small number of individuals with serious mental illnesses commit acts of violence. Individuals who are not being treated commit almost all of these acts; many of them also abusing alcohol or drugs.”
Pic #1: Eric Garner. Killed for selling loose cigarettes.
Pic #2: Tamir Rice. Killed for playing with a toy gun.
Pic #3: Dylan Roof. Captured alive after killing 9 in a church.
Pic #4: Nikolas Cruz. Captured alive after killing 17 in a school.
I wonder why they kneel… pic.twitter.com/jO0G1DiUmA
— Pé Resists (@4everNeverTrump) February 17, 2018
For Nikolas Cruz To Claim Legal Insanity, He Wouldn’t Have To Be Mentally Ill
According to HG.org, the leading online resource for lawyers, “legal insanity” and “mental illness” are not one in the same. According to them, someone’s psychologist can determine that s/he is mentally ill, but that person still may not meet the legal definition of “insanity.”
In addition, using the so-called “insanity defense” is the least successful defense. Finally, there are a few tests that need to be administered before a defendant can be considered “legally insane.”
One of these young boys is Tamir Rice (right). He was 12 years old when killed by a cop.
The other is Nikolas Cruz, who went into #Parkland & killed 17 ppl. One was described as a thug; the other was called a “broken child.”
Amazing when the media decides to offer humanity. pic.twitter.com/VfWVzmXRS7
— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) February 16, 2018
So, while Nikolas Cruz claims “mental illness” for his alleged crimes, it does not mean that he is legally insane, and neither does it mean that all mentally ill people are violent.