The man accused of killing 77 people in a terrorist rampage that shook Norway last summer is insane and cannot be sentenced to prison or preventive detention, but can be confined to a mental hospital for the rest of his life, police said Tuesday.After 36 hours of police and psychiatrists interviewing Anders Breivik, they've reached the conclusion that Breivik was psychotic during the killings, opening the window to the likely possibility of him avoiding jail time altogether and spending the rest of his life in a mental hospital.
If this turns out to be the case it'll be one of the greatest injustices we've ever seen. We've taken the time to read through Brievik's 1,500 page manifesto and it's clear that the man was extremely calculated and thorough in all of his actions. It was probably the most "sane" and well put together manifestos we've ever seen, making it all the more scary. Usually when someone goes out in a blaze and they vent their grievances in a manifesto, it's full of mindless ramblings that only make sense to someone with an IQ lower than 30. But Behring knew exactly what he was doing and knew it was wrong - he had no illusions about it.
But does it really matter either way? When someone kills 77 people in a calculated mass execution, does it really matter what a couple therapists think about his state of mind? How does that really change anything? I suppose a mental hospital could help treat a person of mental illness and get them back to a state closer to "normal". But with a guy like this, what's the point? Is there going to be a day where they say "after a couple years of treatment, Breivik now realizes what he did was wrong, he has corrected his thinking, and now he'll be a productive member of society"? If that happens, where's the justice? Well great, he now knows it's wrong to kill people. Yeah it's too bad about the 77 dead, but we're sure glad Breivik now knows right from wrong.
In cases like this, we need to look at what the goals of justice are. The #1 priority here should be to keep guys like this off the streets and away from society. Whether or not he is able to reach a point of mental clarity or deal with his inner demons, that's really his concern and should not be the burden of society. And sure if you want to treat his psychological issues, have at it, but aren't there plenty of more worthy people with mental illnesses that it would make sense to focus on instead? And I think we should also keep in mind the possibility of escape - do you really think a mental hospital is as secure as a prison? Either lock him up and throw away the key or put him out of his misery so everyone can move on with their lives without him.