Traditionally, the insanity defense has been available in two situations:
In 2009, the National Research Council issued a report on forensic analysis in court. It found that few forensic investigative techniques are supported by sufficient science.
Many people agree that our criminal justice system relies too much on pretrial detention -- keeping people in jail because they are assigned bail they can't afford. Ideally, we could tell who is a flight risk and who is a danger to the community in some logical way and release those who are not.
As we consider the causes of mass incarceration in the United States, we start with the knowledge that crime has been dropping since the mid-1990s. That should mean that arrest rates are also dropping, but that isn't always the case.
In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court said that "plea bargaining . . . is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system."
How much has the mass incarceration trend affected Iowa? More than you might think.
When a criminal defendant's fingerprints are at issue, the stakes are high. The person has been accused of a crime, and those fingerprints could theoretically place them at the crime scene or otherwise indicate their involvement. People go to prison in cases where a matching fingerprint is the primary evidence.
Prosecutors have a legal and ethical duty not to knowingly allow perjury. If a prosecutor learns that a witness -- even a police officer -- in one of their cases lied on the stand, that prosecutor is required to notify the judge and attempt to correct the matter.
The violent crime rate in the U.S. hit a high in approximately 1990 and then began to taper off. That trend continued until 2015 and 2016, when the violent crime rate rose slightly. In 2017 and 2018, however, the violent crime rate resumed its downward trend. Now, the violent crime rate is half of what it was in the early 90s.
It's a tale as old as time. Someone is arrested and held in jail before trial. Naturally, they're desperate for a friendly face or a caring voice. They spill their guts to their new friend, giving details of the crime. That "friend" contacts the prosecution offering to turn over those details in exchange for a break on their own sentence.