Guilty Except for Insanity - Maddening Journeys Through an American Asylum

"Unfolds as a profound critique of institutional care tragically overtaken by the criminal justice system."


— Lynne Layton, Ph.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School

Aims of the Project

The primary aim of the Guilty Except for Insanity (GEI) project is to produce a feature-length documentary film that is guided by research in community mental health and serves as a prototype that combines social action research, HD digital video, and an interdisciplinary analysis of a social problem. The film also will be available in an hour-long format suitable for television programming and distribution as a dvd, including special educational features.

A second aim is to raise public awareness concerning the tragic loss of community mental health services throughout the United States and to bring into view the human costs of longer prison terms in the United States - a driving factor in increased reliance on the insanity defense. Although forensic hospitals provide a form of asylum for individuals with diagnosable conditions, the film vividly portrays the daunting consequences of this path through the criminal justice system. Patients typically serve longer sentences and are far more stigmatized than are inmates once they leave the hospital, and they are often targets of prejudice in the neighborhoods where they live in group facilities.