This episode of "Quincy" addresses the concept of legal sanity. This is a complex issue and many don't realize that although a person might be insane or do really sick things, in the eyes of the law this might or might not be a case of Not Guilty By Reason of Sanity (NGI) if they commit some horrible crime. It all has to do with a determination of court ordered psychotherapists as to whether the person understood that what they did was wrong. So, if they kill but know they are killing, legally, they ARE sane---even if they butcher a bus load of babies (or the like). It's a confusing and foggy situation, that's for sure. And here in "Quincy", it's still very confusing.
The show begins with a young man at the hospital--demanding to see his doctor NOW. It's obvious the guy is becoming unglued and eventually he stomps off...and butchers his father and two siblings!! There is no doubt he did it and now the question is what to do with the guy. He has a long history of mental health commitments but he COULD legally be responsible for these murders. But if he isn't, there is no definite period of incarceration and he MIGHT be allowed out rather soon....to finish the job on his mother!
For the most part, Quincy is a minor character in this show. The autopsy is never in doubt and Quincy himself has very little to do in this one. Unfortunately, like so many of the social issue shows, Quincy's role is reduced to speechifying about this terrible problem (it's really bad when there is about five minutes left in the show)--and how mentally ill murderers MUST be kept off the streets. The show really had a point and the problem is STILL a serious one. With a bit less preaching by Quincy, this would have been an even better show.
By the way, this issue is tackled really, really well in the Richard Gere film "Primal Fear"--and Edward Norton does a great job playing a homicidal killer who pleads NGI. Well worth seeing.
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