What Should Society Do About Andrea Yates

This partial transcript from The O'Reilly Factor, June 25, 2001 was provided by the Federal Document Clearing House. Click here to order the complete transcript.

BILL O’REILLY, HOST:  In the "Impact" segment tonight, the case of Andrea Yates. 
She drowned her five children in a bathtub.  Her lawyer says she most
likely will plead insanity.  Her husband says he is standing by her.  What
should society say? 

With us now is attorney Brian Neary, who won an insanity acquittal for
a 33-year-old computer specialist who killed his mother and father.  That
man is presently in a mental hospital in the state of New Jersey, but may
soon be released.  You know, that disturbs me, counselor.  I've got to tell
you, this whole thing about -- I understand there's mental illness and I
understand there are varying degrees of that.  But say your client, the guy
you got an acquittal, gets out in the next year or so.  I mean he killed
his mother and his father.  They're dead and this guy's walking around the

how what we look upon the criminal justice system is to do.  If it's
retribution, you're absolutely, positively right.  Because if it's
retribution for the act that you did, if you took a life you either lose
your own life or you stay away for the rest of your life.  But if we take a
look at a different way, say, for example, we look to see the
rehabilitation, or how about simply protection of you and I and other
people in society?  If that man is cured and cured in such a way by a
mental health system that either provides medication, therapy or whatever,
that you and I are safe, then I think it's moral that he's allowed back

O'REILLY:  All right, No. 1, I don't know how anybody could make that
assurance.  You know, it's a subjective thing because the insanity plea is
subjective, too.  I mean this woman who killed her five children drowned
them systematically, was on medication, a history of depression, obviously
emotionally disturbed.  I don't know if she's mentally incapacitated.  The
jury will decide that.  But I'm saying to you that in our society I think
we have a moral obligation to keep these people in supervision.  I'm not
saying in a penitentiary.  I'm saying supervision, for more than five years
if they commit a double murder. 

NEARY:  Well, if supervision includes a mental institution, so long as
that's a facility that treats as opposed to just incarcerates and jails
then down.  Or a system of mental illness supervision, mental health that
would allow that person to exist in society so long as they're properly
treated.  I think, Bill O'Reilly, this has to do with our view as a society
of mental health.  Physical health, physical illness we can tell with an X-
ray.  You've got a broken leg, you don't have a broken leg. 

O'REILLY:  Sure.  You know it.  It's not subjective. 

NEARY:  But mental illness is seen as something very, very different,
and I think that reflects a lot upon the way that we deal with those people
that we not only call insane, but we're really talking here about the
criminally insane. 

O'REILLY:  All right, but here's my take on it, and this is going to
sound very harsh to the people that are watching.  You can't save everybody
in this society.  I don't believe you can save everybody and I don't
believe society has the obligation to do that.  See, the guy that you got
acquitted, yeah, he has bipolar and he may be whatever, but I don't put him
back on the street.  I don't do it.  Maybe in 20 years, maybe.  But this
woman in Houston, again, I don't think that society has an obligation to
try to save that woman. 

The only obligation society has is to keep the woman away from
everybody else, whether she's mentally incapacitated or not.  Keep her
away.  And now I sound like a mean guy, but that's the way I -- I believe
that's the fair and just thing to do, morally -- morally. 

NEARY:  I don't, well, see, I don't necessarily think that's mean
because I think we as a society have a right to protect ourselves. 

O'REILLY:  Right. 

NEARY:  But if we find that this woman is...

O'REILLY:  Who's we? 

NEARY:  We in society. 

O'REILLY:  I'm not in on this. 

NEARY:  Oh, you're in on this. 

O'REILLY:  No, I'm not.  Some pinhead psychiatrist who I don't know
where he's coming from is going to make that determination in the mental
institution.  I'm not having a vote on that. 

NEARY:  Yeah, but it's not just the so-called pinhead psychiatrist. 
It may be several psychiatrists and it's also going to be a judge in an
adversarial system that will challenge whether or not that person is going
to be let out.

O'REILLY:  All right, your guy, you said to me your guy is probably
going to get out, right? 

NEARY:  I think most psychiatrists, almost every psychiatrist that
I've spoken to about him is that his condition has improved such, through
medication, through therapy, that he soon should be out. 

O'REILLY:  And he's going to be, what, 38 years old now?  He was 33
when he did this?  He's 38? 

NEARY:  About that. 

O'REILLY:  All right, say he gets out and he doesn't take his
medication.  Are you going to go over there every day and make sure he
takes it? 

NEARY:  Well, I can't go over and be assured of that. 

O'REILLY:  Yeah. 

NEARY:  But the system has to, it's not certainty, Bill.  It's
reasonable certainty. 

O'REILLY:  Reasonably certainty.

NEARY:  And that means...

O'REILLY:  See, reasonable is a word I don't know if applies to this
case.  He killed his mother and his father.  He's out in five years.  I
don't think that's reasonable. 

NEARY:  Well, the problem is going to be is the mental health system
that is willing to supervise him in a capable type of way.  If we don't
believe that the mental health system can do it, then you're absolutely

O'REILLY:  Well, I don't think the mental health system can make him
take his medicine if he decides he doesn't want to take it. 

NEARY:  But if he won't take his medicine, he decomposes and when he
decomposes, he then can be put back into the same institution. 

O'REILLY:  Or he can kill you and your family. 

NEARY:  That would be terrible.  Absolutely. 

O'REILLY:  Yeah! 

NEARY:  But, beyond that, though, but that is part of the risk that we
don't know everybody who walks out on 48th Street tonight whether or not...

O'REILLY:  No, everybody doesn't kill their parents, everybody doesn't
kill the five children and I don't believe society should be taking that
risk.  But we appreciate your point of view, counselor.  Always good to see

NEARY:  Good to see you, too.

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