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The Insanity Defense in Norway

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For all of Norway's laxity in the punishment of murder, it does appear they have a reasonably sensible definition of the insanity defense.  Ian MacDougall reports for AP that it is unlikely Breivik will qualify "because he appears to have been in control of his actions, the head of the panel that will review his psychiatric evaluation told The Associated Press."

The July 22 attacks were so carefully planned and executed that it would be difficult to argue they were the work of a delusional madman, said Dr. Tarjei Rygnestad, who heads the Norwegian Board of Forensic Medicine.

In Norway, an insanity defense requires that a defendant be in a state of psychosis while committing the crime with which he or she is charged. That means the defendant has lost contact with reality to the point that he's no longer in control of his own actions.

The circumstances of the crime should, of course, be central in determining the defendant's mental state.  Too often, though, they are brushed aside, especially by defense psychiatrists.

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Now all the panel needs to do is examine the heads of those who decided that 21 years is all he can get for this.

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