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Reforms - dimished responsibility

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DR used (unnecessarily) to avoid mandatory life sentence

Defendants are under pressure to benefit from the sentencing discretion of the judge for a conviction of voluntary manslaughter.

Abolish mandatory life sentence for murder

Many judges and others (including the Butler Committee) argue that the mandatory sentence for murder should be abolished.  After all, most murderers do not serve the whole term or even the Tariff set by the judge. 

Once removed the need to produce often flimsy defences which qualify as DR would cease.


Prosecution argue insanity

If D raises DR the prosecution can seek to prove he is insane, which they are not doing to facilitate a defence but to ensure D is detained in a mental institution.


Halfway defence.

It is argued that the defence should either be complete or available for all offences or not exist at all (currently it is a "specific and partial defence").


The present law is an illogical halfway defence.


The Butler Committee on mentally abnormal offenders

The meaning of the words "diminished responsibility" is unclear, since it is not a medical fact relating to the accused, it is difficult to measure the impairment of such responsibility. 

"Responsibility" is a moral concept

Whether D has diminished responsibility is essentially a moral concept with medical causes.  Often the medical witnesses trespass on the area that is role of the jury, without true authority.


Used to do justice.

The defence of DR is often used in so called "Mercy Killing" cases to avoid a conviction for murder, as occurred with Daniel Gardner who killed his parents to spare prolonging their awful condition. News Report, here.


Law Commission

Their final report is here.


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