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Psychology Quiz: The Case of Ralph Tortorici Essay

In 1994, Ralph Tortorici, 26 years old, took a class hostage and ended up shooting one student in the leg and the groin. This kind of act could easily be categorized as one that would be surely convicted to a prison sentence of no less than 15 years. However, Ralph Tortorici’s case was not just because of rage and aggression; it was caused by mental illness – delusion disorder. How the court dealt with Ralph’s case is where things went wrong, and made it a torturous journey for him, ending when he took his life three years after his conviction, by hanging himself in his cell.

He was sentenced to 20-47 years in prison, rather than to be sent to a mental institution. Two years before this incident, Ralph showed evidence of mental illness, and was well documented as he went to a university health worker and a state trooper for aid. He claims that a microchip is implanted in his penis as a part of a government experiment, and he could not take it anymore. He claims to hear voices from this microchip, telling him what to do. With such, actions should have been immediately made to intercede Ralph’s delusions, which perhaps wouldn’t have worsened, and more significantly, he might be still alive today.

One fact I have learned about insanity defense is that pleading not guilty by reason of insanity isn’t by far the easy way out. Once an individual pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, this person is monitored by the state for the rest of his life. They must report to the state, and they become attached to the state until they die. So unless one is really mentally ill, lawyers do not advise their clients to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Work Cited “A Crime of Insanity”. 17 Oct 2002. Pbs. org. 13 Jun 2009. <http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/crime/>.


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