Edward Lai Harner, Edward Harner
Andrea Harner
andreaharnerblog AT gmail
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August 30, 2007

Kirschner's Criminal Behavior class: Interesting question posed on first day

And the answer is...155!! Isn't that shocking?? And of those, 41 won. Thanks for playing!!

Between 1988 and 1997 there were roughly 96,000 felony indictments in New York so on average, just under 10,000 per year during this 10 year span. Of the 96,000 cases, how many defendants entered a not guilty plea by reason of insanity or diminished capacity? They don't need to have won the case. Simply, of the 96,000 homicide cases tried in New York, how many of these pleas were entered during this time?

Let me know what you think and I'll post the answer. Then, I'll tell you of those cases, how many won!



AH.com: Hey Anne-Marie - thanks for your email and this comment. Unfortunately you are wrong! Let's see what other people guess...

Posted by: Anne-Marie at August 30, 2007 7:15 AM


AH.com: Still no...Wanna give me your reasoning?

Posted by: Anne-Marie at August 30, 2007 7:15 AM

WTF? 96,000 people were killed in a span of 9 years?

Take a look at this link, it adds to 20,495 if you look at these rates:


But if I was to guess, I'd say about 70,000 plead insanity. Common fact you have to admit as a New Yorker: everyone is freakin insane!

AH.com: Sorry, your comment made me clarify my post - felony indictments. No dice!! But thanks for playing, Mike!

Posted by: M at August 30, 2007 10:15 AM

Stumbled across your blog wanted to answer your Psych question -

My guess is that the number is pretty high - somewhere in the neighborhood of 85,000?

Just a guess.

Nice blog! :)


AH.com: Thanks! Unfortunately no...stay tuned for the answer!

Posted by: Paul at August 30, 2007 10:28 AM

How'd you know my name was Mike?

And yes I'd believe there were 96K felony indictments. That'll make the number of insanity plea trickier to guess, seeing as they are used more often during a homicide trial rather than grand larceny.

I'd say maybe 50,000 out of the total. Reason being is that insanity sentences are served out at a mental institution, rather than a maximum lock-up.

Am I right?

Are you reading "The Case of Daniel McNaughton: Let's get the story straight” by Dalby for your class by any chance?

AH.com: Your guess is not right! It was my guess too. I don't have that book assigned but will check it out.

Posted by: M at August 30, 2007 2:27 PM

96,000 felony indictments. 90% of the cases plead, so now were talking 9,600 jury trials. Of the roughly 9,600 cases, probably 5% are homicide or homicide related where an insanity plea would impact the verdict. That makes it 430 (probably less) murders that actually go to trial in 10 years. I would say less than half that actually use insanity as a defense. So now, we're talking 215 (probably even less). Anyways, that's my answer. Am I close?

AH.com: Wow. We have the closest answer yet! Full disclosure: Roy is my cousin and is a prosecutor. Anyone else want to take a guess?

Posted by: Roy at August 30, 2007 5:18 PM

I'm guessing about 600. Though I don't know why I'd wanna take a guess after Roy's answer. . .

AH.com: Interesting...stay tuned for the answer tomorrow!

Posted by: Rich at August 30, 2007 9:15 PM

OK, I've just been waiting for everyone else to answer so I can get more info for my guess (kind of like the last guy in line who gets to bid on the Price is Right: "one dollar Bob!")


AH.com: I will post when I wake up - good night!

Posted by: Jamie at August 30, 2007 11:41 PM
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