Sunday, 13 August 2006
[b:f38856412a]Insanity Verdicts Stir Debate[/b:f38856412a]: The Recent Decision in the Daniel Fears Case Brings This Hot-Button Issue Back to the Forefront.
By Rod Walton, [i:f38856412a]Tulsa World[/i:f38856412a], Okla.
"I think the system is designed to provide treatment that patients need and, at the same time, ensure that patients are compliant," Nigh said.
Not always, Jeanne Been pointed out. She's the mother of Robert W. Jenkins, a postal carrier who authorities said was randomly gunned down by Jason Weed in December 2001 at a Tulsa apartment complex.
Weed was tried in Tulsa federal court and found not guilty by reason of insanity.
He was sent to a mental-health center in North Carolina but was released last year when his treatment team and a judge agreed that he was no danger to himself or others.
"I understand exactly how they feel," Been said of victims in the Fears case.
She has followed the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ruling and found the split decision "strange," she said.
She supports her son's widow, Amber Lynn Jenkins, in efforts to get the law changed to provide for a verdict of "guilty by reason of insanity." With that statute, a defendant would receive mental-health treatment until he or she was deemed to be safe, and then be sent to prison for the duration of the sentence.
"If they've committed a crime, we need to have the problem taken care of," Been said. "But they need to take responsibility."
Weed is free to go on with his life, she noted. Anyone who sees that as justice probably has not grieved over a violent crime against a loved one, in her view.
"Those same people don't want Jason Weed or Daniel Fears living in their neighborhood," Been said. "They didn't lose a son or husband or father or they wouldn't be saying those things."