1975 August 4

NJ Supreme Court Rules Non-Dangerous Criminally Insane Cannot be Detained


The New Jersey Supreme Court on this day ruled that criminally insane persons cannot be detained in mental institutions against their will if they have not been found to be dangerous to themselves or others. The ruling declared unconstitutional a state law that allowed juries to acquit an accused murder by reason of insanity at the time of the crime and then determine whether the person’s condition of insanity was continuing. Persons who had not a crime and were committed to mental institutions, by contrast, could only be confined as long as they displayed dangerousness. The judge in the case accepted the Public Defender’s argument that the differential treatmfnt between the two groups violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

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