Thursday, January 17, 2008

The spoils of psychosis

Joshua Hoge is confined at Western State Hospital after being found not guilty by reason of insanity for murdering his mother. He is now trying to claim all or part of his late mother's estate, despite a Washington State law that prevents someone from profiting from killing someone else.

The bulk of the estate that he is trying to claim - $800,000 - came from a lawsuit filed against the clinic that kept Joshua from getting the treatment he needed for his schizophrenia - treatment that might have prevented him from stabbing his mother and brother to death with a butcher knife in the first place.

There's a great deal of gnashing of teeth over the possibility of Joshua "winning" this money - which would likely be used to support him if and when he is ever permitted to transition into a group home and back into society.

While Seattle University law professor John Strait acknowledges that this is "nutty logic," he agrees that Hoge may very well be entitled to the money. "For all intents and purposes, there is no crime," he says. "We don't punish people for being really sick."

Unless you count forcing them to remain psychotic, stab their family members, and spend their lives in a forensic facility ...

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