Insanity defense on the rise, costing taxpayers

New York News

ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — County lawmakers in New York are noticing a trend: more defendants are claiming insanity in their cases, and it’s costing taxpayers.

The district attorney’s office needs to pay for a mental health exam for the defendant, and their defense team has to do one as well. And if the defendant is represented by a public offender, that’s a county expense, too.

If that person is successful in the insanity defense, they then head to the New York State Office of Mental Health, but the county doesn’t stop paying the tab.

“So every two years, we have to go back and fight whether or not they should remain confined,” Oneida County DA Scott McNamara said. “If our forensic psychiatrist is just reviewing records and writing a report for us, it might be about $5,000. If it’s more complicated, we’re talking about going and testifying.”

The total cost can rise as much as $25,000 to $50,000 depending on the complexity of the case.

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