Written by Dominic Dezzutti

In an era where most major criminal trials are played out live on television, it is unlikely that the trial of the shooter in the Aurora tragedy will be any different. But what will be different than previous prime time trials will be how the entire idea of how we treat the criminally insane.

After the funerals, the gun control debate will predictably heat up, but I think how the American justice system handles pleas of insanity will become the major conversation surrounding the perpetrator of these crimes.

The idea of treating the criminally insane within our justice system stems from our collective attempt to be as fair and humane as possible, even in the face of inhumane actions.

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, so I really cannot begin to explain some of the intricacies behind the definition of criminal insanity. But the good news is that all of us will be so inundated with analysis of this topic in the next few months that we’ll all be a few credits closer to being a paralegal whether we like it or not.

But beyond the legal definitions and usage of the insanity plea, the idea and purpose of it will also be debated in this country, not only on cable TV shows, but also around water coolers nationwide.

Since the insanity plea is part of our justice system trying to be as humane as possible, inevitably, the debate will come down to how our justice system should treat those accused of crimes whose guilt of committing the crimes are not in question.

There are those in our community that believe if we know for sure that someone committed a crime, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we shouldn’t waste time on an expensive trial. They have a valid point since at this point we are not arguing about if the shooter in Aurora was the one who murdered 12 people and injured 58 others.

The big points of the discussion should come down to two things, our collective desire to see capital punishment of heinous crimes and if we feel the mentally ill should be treated differently while incarcerated.

I certainly do not know the answers, but I know that we all will be trying to find the answers to those questions in the months to come.

Crimes of this nature serve as a reset button for many of us, forcing us to reconsider opinions and beliefs that we usually take for granted. As terrible as the reason for the reset button was, it is good for all of us to take a look at these beliefs because they make up the moral fiber of our country.

We owe it to the future of our country to know why we believe what we believe, and frankly we cannot do that unless once in a while we stop and consider our beliefs.

About The Blogger

– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.


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