While other jurisdictions use guilty but mentally ill as a compromise verdict to fill the gap between guilty by reason of insanity and a guilty verdict after an unsuccessful insanity defense, Alaska has transformed the status into a prosecutorial tool to keep mentally ill defendants incarcerated for longer than their mentally sane counterparts through denial of “good time” credit. Although Blakely was used—correctly—to prevent the denial of the mentally ill their Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury and proof beyond a reasonable doubt in December 2013’s State v. Clifton, the court of appeals eliminated any utility from this middle ground, rendering serious mental illness short of M’Naghten insanity a per se aggravating circumstance.
Lauren G. Johansen,
Guilty But Mentally Ill: The Ethical Dilemma Of Mental Illness As A Tool Of The Prosecution,
32 Alaska Law Review
Available at: http://scholarship.law.duke.edu/alr/vol32/iss1/2