If you committed a crime - you prefer prison or an insane asylum?

There’s lots of speculation that the Batman murderer James Holmes is trying for an insanity plea.

I’ve always thought a mental hospital would be worse than prison. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest made a lasting impression on me. I think they got a lot of stuff right in that movie. The condescending attitude that we’re normal and you’re not. Forced drug injections & straight jackets to control behavior. Being around really, really crazy people would scare the hell out of me. Worst of all would be the endless therapy sessions talking bullshit to doctors (remember, you got to talk crazy to stay in).

I’d prefer prison if I committed a crime. Keep your mouth shut, follow the rules, and serve out the sentence. With luck you might not get assaulted and eventually the years would pass much like it did for the characters in The Shawshank Redemption.

My ability to intellectualize
Allowed me to rationalize
Which got me institutionalized.

Funny farm for me… :cool:

Give Nurse Ratched my regards GusNSpot. :wink: That character still scares me 30 years after seeing the movie.

If I had to serve time then I’d want to do it with the least hassle. Put me in a cell, and I’ll read every book in the prison library. I’d keep my mouth shut, head down and try to be as invisible as possible.

Of course, I try really hard not to break the law. I have no desire to ever see the inside of any jail or prison.

Probably a mental hospital, but it would depend on the specific mental hospital and the specific prison. A women’s minimum security prison might not be the worst place in the world. Basically I want whichever one will give me my own room.

Prisoners get condescended to and considered abnormal too.

That’s likely not going to happen if you behave yourself.

Not necessarily, and in some cases, if you talk sane you’ll get out of the institution and be free. Plus you won’t be talking to doctors that much anyway, they don’t have the funding for that. You probably would have a lot of bullshit group therapy sessions though. That would be annoying. But the thought of the prison day room doesn’t excite me much either.

If they decide you’ve recovered your sanity, do you go free? Or do you go to prison for the rest of the sentence?

Anyway, talking to doctors or therapists or groups is fun. It can be a great game.

(Talking to lawyers, on the other hand, is a PITA… And you can’t talk to judges at all…)

Put me in prison and let me serve my time–with perhaps a caveat that I’d take an institution over some of the truly terrifying prisons they detail on those National Geographic and History Channel shows.

The thing is, if you go to prison, you can serve your time and then get out, life sentences and vagaries of the parole system aside. Getting out of a mental institution can be practically impossible. There was a This American Lifebit about it a while back that was positively Kafkaesque, and on the fictional side, we’ve got Nurse Ratched. Trying to convince folks that you’re sane when they’ve got no particular incentive to come to that conclusion is not as easy as it sounds…

I’ve been in prisons. Loony bin for me.

This actually played out some years ago (mid-1990’s IIRC) in San Luis Obispo County, CA. There is a city there named Atascadero. There is a prison hospital there (it looks like a prison from the outside) for the criminally insane, called Atascadero State Hospital. How appropriate. “Atascadero” == Spanish for “a place where you get stuck”.

In CA, convicted sex offenders can be held indefinitely even after they finish their sentences. They get “evaluated” before they are released, and if they are thought to be still a danger to the community, they are transferred to some mental hospital, to be held and “treated” until they are safe, which can be indefinitely. ASH was the place (or one of the places) chosen to house such a program.

From the start, inmates held there complained that it was worse than being back in prison where they started. Regular prisoners had prison jobs, which included things like tractor work plowing the weeds along highways, and other useful work that was more interesting than rotting in a prison cell. They were allowed razors to shave themselves, real metal utensils to eat with, and other such amenities. I believe this was all so because they were in a “low security” prison situation, for the non-insane.

All that changed when they got to ASH. No more prison jobs, and certainly not outside the walls. No shaving, no metal utensils. (I don’t know if they had barbers to shave them, or if they were allowed electric shavers.) All sorts of restrictions on their lives and behavior, beyond what they had in regular prison, because they were in now in a looney bin.

IIRC, their complaints eventually led to changes at ASH. There had to be a new separate program for them, distinct from the regular insane inmates, where they were housed separately, treated separately, and had their own separate set of rules appropriate for their situation.

That would be my concern too. Even if you memorized the symptoms for a disorder and fooled the Doctors. Convincing them you’re ok and sane a year or two later might get tricky. Plus, the drugs they give you treating your fake disorder might really mess up your sense of reality.

I think John Hinckley, Jr. would be out by now if he had gone to prison. He’s served thirty years for the shootings that didn’t kill anyone. He’s slowly convincing the Doctors that he’s ok and they want to release him. Last I read, he was getting out weekends and staying with his mom. Feds are fighting hard to keep him in the hospital.

I’ll take the insane asylum if I can read and watch TV. Boring, but definitely not stressful.

It seems kind of pointless to have the option of ‘other’ in this poll. Wouldn’t everybody actually prefer some form of ‘other’?

(Bold added.)

Do you all remember the infamous pseudo-patient experiment, by David Rosenhan in 1973?

Rosenhan suspected that, should a perfectly sane person somehow get admitted to a mental hospital, that the doctors and staff would never detect that the patient was sane. He sent several volunteers to test this: They falsely complained of “hearing voices”, got themselves admitted to psych wards, and then never mentioned “voices” or otherwise acted deliberately abnormal again. In most cases, the staff never re-evaluated them and never recognized them as sane. In a few cases at least (IIRC), getting them out was Kafkaesque indeed.

Wikipedia article

Rosenhan, D.L. (1973) On being sane in insane places. Fairly detailed discussion of the experiment.

On being sane in insane places. Rosenhan’s original report. (Including somewhat gross photo that wasn’t part of the original report.)

How much worse this is likely to be if you actually arrive from the criminal justice system. This all strongly tends to confirm Ken Kesey’s view of what happens if you do.

Ass up. A man that knows his role. :wink:

I prefer shrinks and not having to watch out when I drop my soap.

[li]In Australia, I’d prefer prison, I’ve reacted badly to most psychiatric drugs I’ve been given. Besides I’m big, fit and a decent fighter, not to mention a tad bicurious for consential fun.[/li][li]In the UK, depending on how strict the secured hospital is, I’m apprehensive about the radical Muslim gangs dominating HM’s Prison population. [/li][li]In Norway… sign me up for the prison holiday camp.[/li][li]In America, I’m not sure, the private prison companies have an market incentive to not help you reform, besides, I’ve heard that white people would attract bad attention in prison.[/li][/ul]

Prison, for sure. I’d do my time and then GTFO.

Um, y’all do realized that a lot has changed in the mental health system since ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ as well as since 1973, right?

Insane asylum for me.