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Retain insanity defense, commission recommends

An independent commission recommended that the insanity defense be retained. Ever since the acquittal of presidential assailant John W. Hinckley Jr., the plea of ''not guilty by reason of insanity'' has been under attack. The panel's chairman, former Indiana Sen. Birch Bayh, said the defense could not be improved by eliminating it, but suggested placing the burden on the defendant instead of the prosecution to prove insanity.

The US attorney general has urged the federal government to adopt for federal crimes a plea of ''guilty but mentally ill.'' Several states have already adopted that plea, legal correspondent Curtis J. Sitomer reports.

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