Competency and not guilty by reason of insanity

The media seems to frequently portray cases of NGRI. However, while 30% of felony cases may raise insanity as a possible defense; this approach most often does not even make it to trial. Moreover, defendants who attempt insanity pleas will serve longer sentences than those convicted criminally, and they will serve these sentences in hospitals that closely resemble prisons. 

In this week’s Assignment, you will explore forensic risk assessments that will first address whether the suspect in the School Shooter case has the mental capacity to stand trial. You will then use the Learning Resources to support your position as to whether the suspect could be legally determined to be insane. 

To prepare

  • Review the “School Shooter” podcast.
  • Review the Learning Resources, paying particular attention to the Competence Assessment for standing trial for defendants with mental retardation (CAST-MR) by Simpson.

In a 2- to 3-page paper:

  • Describe two forensic risk assessment instruments that may be used by the forensic professional when assessing the school shooter for competency to stand trial. Justify your selection of these instruments utilizing the CAST-MR and other resources. 
  • Explain your position on whether you believe the defendant in the case study was legally insane at the time of the offense. Justify your position using the CAST- MR as well as any other resources.


Blumoff, T.Y. (2015). Rationality, insanity, and the insanity defense: Reflections on the limits of reason. Law & Psychology Review, 39, 161–204. Retrieved from
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Borum, R., Cornell, D. G., Modzeleski, W., & Jimerson, S. R. (2010). What can be done about school shootings? A review of the evidence. Educational Researcher, 39(1), 27–37. doi:10.3102/0013189X09357620
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

Lurigio, A. J. (2016). ‘It’s not my fault’: New conceptual frameworks for understanding the insanity defense. [Review of the book The matrix of insanity in modern criminal law, by G. Hallevy]. PsycCritiques, 61(16). doi:10.1037/a0040128
Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

National Association of School Psychologists, & National Association of School Resource Officers. (2014). Best practice considerations for schools in active shooter and other armed assailant drills. Retrieved from and Policy/Advocacy Resources/BP_Armed_Assailant_Drills.pdf

Best practice considerations for schools in active shooter and other armed assailant drills, NASP, NASRO (2014). Reprinted by permission of NASP via the Copyright Clearance Center.

Roesch, R., Zapf, P. A., Golding, S. L., & Skeem, J. L. (2014). Defining and assessing competency to stand trial. Retrieved from 

Roesch, R. et al. (2014). Defining and assessing competency to stand trial. Retrieved from:​

Simpson, P. (n.d.). Competence assessment for standing trial for defendants with mental retardation (CAST-MR). Retrieved September 12, 2016, from 

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2016b). School shooter podcast [Audio file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

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