Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Criminal Justice

Advisor/Committee Chair

Allison Redlich


Previous research suggests that there are stereotypes and misperceptions about the mentally ill population which affect juror’s decision making in cases where the insanity defense is raised. Many individuals believe it to be a “loophole” in the criminal justice system for offenders to escape punishment (Skeem and Golding, 2002). This study explores community perceptions of schizophrenia and personality disorders in a legal context. Results support that individuals are significantly less confident of their verdict decisions when the offender has a mental illness than when the offender has no mental illness. In addition, the presence of a mental illness significantly affects punishment choice.