Springer Nature is making Coronavirus research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

The hidden effects of Montana's “abolition” of the insanity defense

  • 63 Accesses

  • 5 Citations


Montana abolished the affirmative insanity defense in 1979. In this article we examine the effect of this change by focusing on all defendants who raised mental health in his/her defense from 1976 to 1985. We found that while post-reform insanity acquittals did dramatically decline, there was a corresponding rise in findings of incompetent to stand trial with charges dismissed, perhaps negating the desired impact. We also compared the defendants and the legal process, finding no significant differences pre to post reform.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.

    Gest T: Hinckley bombshell: End of insanity plea? US News and World Report: 12–14 July 5, 1982.

  2. 2.

    Isaacson W: Insane on all counts. Time:22–26, July 5, 1982.

  3. 3.

    Lee J: Is the system guilty? Time:26–27 July 6, 1982.

  4. 4.

    Arenella P: Reflections on current proposals to abolish or reform the insanity defense. American Journal of Law and Medicine 8:271–284, 1982.

  5. 5.

    Bender JM: The present state of the insanity defense in Montana. Montana Law Review 45:133–150, 1984.

  6. 6.

    Geis G, Meier RF: Abolition of the insanity plea in Idaho. A case study. The Annals 477:72–83, 1985.

  7. 7.

    Montana Code Annotated, Sections 46-14-201, 201(1), 301, 311, 312.

  8. 8.

    State v. Korell, 690 P. 2d 992, 1984.

  9. 9.

    Steadman HJ: Empirical research on the insanity defense. The Annals 477:58–71, 1985.

  10. 10.

    Steadman HJ, Callahan LA, Morrissey JP, Robbins PC: The maintenance of an insanity defense under Montana's abolition. American Journal of Psychiatry, 146:357–360, 1989.

  11. 11.

    Callahan LA, Steadman HJ, Cirincione C, Robbins PC: Measuring the effects of GBMI reform: Georgia's 1982 statue. Law and Human Behavior, 16:447–462, 1992.

  12. 12.

    Hans VP: An analysis of public attitudes toward the insanity defense. Criminology 24:393–413, 1986.

  13. 13.

    Steadman HJ, and Cocozza JJ: Public perceptions of the criminally insane. Hospital and Community Psychiatry 29:457–459, 1978.

  14. 14.

    Flanagan TJ, Hindelang MJ, Gottfredson MR: (Eds.) Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics—1979. U.S. Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, National Criminal Justice Information Statistics Service. Washington, DC:U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980.

  15. 15.

    Jamieson KM, Flanagan TJ: (Eds.) Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics—1986. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1987.

  16. 16.

    Revised Code of Montana, Section 95–508(a).

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Lisa A. Callahan Ph.D..

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Callahan, L.A., Robbins, P.C., Steadman, H.J. et al. The hidden effects of Montana's “abolition” of the insanity defense. Psych Quart 66, 103–117 (1995).

Download citation


  • Public Health
  • Mental Health
  • Legal Process
  • Insanity Defense
  • Hide Effect