Does Lori Vallow Daybell belong in prison?

This is a high profile criminal case in the U.S. She led a mormon based cult and she had a hand in, or maybe even personally killed, at least one husband (also possibly an ex-husband, that case is pending), her current husband’s wife, and two of her children. Before their deaths she started claiming they’d turned into zombies, next thing you know they were actually dead. She married her fellow cult leader (Chad Daybell, trial pending) a month after his wife’s suspicious death. It was when relatives started asking about the children that they were finally caught. She was just sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole. I admit it’s a relief that she won’t ever be a threat to people again, but she won’t get much, if any mental health care, in prison. Idaho is one of four states that doesn’t allow an insanity defense. Is no one ever so insane that they aren’t responsible for their actions? Under these conditions there are people who will be sent to prison, get no mental health help, then eventually be out among us.
This is Lori Daybell’s speech at her sentencing:

She’s very detestable with no remorse or responsibility taken. She also appears very delusional and not living in the real world. Some think it’s an act. Everyone who could benefit her by being dead ( she collected life insurance and government benefits) ended up dead. According to her they are all happy to be dead, even her lover’s wife. Still, should her attorneys at least been allowed to consider bringing an insanity defense? John Hinkley Jr. seemed irredeemably lost in his delusions when he tried to assassinate President Reagan, yet with mental health care (40 years worth) he is now free and seems no threat to anyone.
There’s no guarantee such a defense would have worked in her case. I’m not sure if such a defense could even have been presented if she was against the idea. I guess what I’m asking is should an insanity defense at least be allowed to be presented? It seems a disservice to the truly mentally ill for it not to at least be on the table.

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In the U.S. legal system, insanity (as a defense) is defined as the inability to tell right from wrong rendering one not responsible for their behavior. This defendant tried to hide what she did. That indicates she knew it was punishable, therefore, she is responsible for her behavior.
Should she be in prison? I do think she should not have access to roam about in public as she poses an obvious danger. And by virtue of the number of deaths she caused, already a recidivist.
That being said, imo, the U.S. prison system typically provides about zero “correction” for criminal behavior. Although the ten year recidivism rate in the U.S. is not the highest in the world, it is above 50%. (
Does she need mental health help? Oh, hell yes! Is she going to get it? Well, spend time observing prison life and you’ll likely walk away answering “not likely”. Prisons here are brutal, horrendous places that are just not conducive to healing from mental health issues.
An additional question: Can she be “fixed”? I’m far from being in a position to determine that but I’ll offer my unevidenced opinion…probably not at this stage of the game.


Yeah, doesn’t seem likely she’ll change. The alternative to believing she’s a priestess warrior who talks to Jesus and other dead people is admitting that she murdered her children to collect their Social Security and be with her lover. Not a very appealing prospect for her.
I noted that the mormon religion she was raised in quickly washed their hands of her. I don’t think that’s the norm of christian based religions with all their talk of repenting and forgiveness, though I can see why they don’t want to claim her.

Based on their past (current?) behavior, if she were Catholic, they would have just moved her to a different town.


From experiences of my time living where there were quite a few mormons it seems par for the course that they quickly abandon someone. I knew two people who’d been excommunicated. From what I’ve seen of the catholic religion they seem pretty intent on holding on to their members, no matter what. The movie Dead Man Walking (based on a true story) had a nun ministering to a man on death row, though the victims family didn’t seem real happy about the murderer getting the most attention. I don’t know anyone of any religion except mormon who’s actually been excommunicated from a religion.

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Insanity is a legal term and not a psychological term. One of the elements is “The defendant did not know the nature or quality of the criminal act he or she committed or that the act was wrong because of the mental defect or disease.” Regardless of her religious beliefs, even the bible tells her, thou shalt not kill. She would have a very hard time 1. demonstrating a legitimate mental disorder. 2. demonstrating the mental disorder prevented her from knowing the act of murdering someone was wrong. (Remember, The DSM does not recognize religiosity as a mental disorder. You need to be really far gone before any court is going to agree to rule against a religion. I think that means your beliefs must interfere with your ability to provide yourself with food, shelter, clothing, or basic safety. She would have a much stronger case for being insane if she were self-mutilating and sacrificing neighbor’s pets on an alter in her basement before eating them.

I don’t see it.


In addition to @CyberLN

She was functional outside of prison (crazy) - she can function inside one. If she wanted mental health - she’d have sought it before she went all criminal. Can’t force mental healthcare on folks :woman_shrugging:t2:.

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I work in healthcare, and I believe insanity causes people to commit crimes.

As for why, consider drugs like LSD and PCP. If someone put LSD in a cop’s coffee when he wasn’t looking, then such a cop might go on a shooting rampage because of the monsters and demons trying to get him.

As a specific, concrete example of the above situation, consider auto brewery syndrome (please see below):

Basically, a person is infected with yeast in the intestines that actually makes alcohol, and the person gets drunk even without so much as touching a drop of alcohol.

People with this syndrome have been arrested and charged with drunk driving despite never having had a drink . . . or even knowing that they had this issue.

I bring it up in the context of an insanity defense because many mental illnesses are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain . . . and while science can help, the issue can’t be fixed as of yet.

As for the way the law works, it’s an absolute that no one should drive drunk. There is no such thing as an extenuating circumstance. If we make one exception, then we have to do it for everyone and then it would be the same thing as if the law doesn’t exist at all.

Please note that I don’t think this way, but politicians do.

In one autobrewery case, the prosecutor gave an example of a man who was arrested for driving drunk because a storm took out the telephones, and his pregnant wife was in early labor and he had to get her to the hospital. This man was arrested, and had the book thrown at him.

So when we circle back to the insanity defense, these are the ideas that the courts use.

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Do you have any knowledge of psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane? If so, are they better places to be than prison? An insanity plea can be risky because you can be held indefinitely, but her prison sentence is life without parole times 3. Of course she probably thought god would intervene and she’d be set free. A case in point of just how crazy “normal” christian thought can be.
Only 4 states don’t allow an insanity defense. Idaho, Kansas, Montana, and Utah. She was tried in Idaho. Her next trial, the murder of her husband, will be in Arizona. It will be interesting to see what happens there. I guess the criteria for being found insane to the point you’re not responsible for a crime is pretty hard to meet, but I don’t think she has much to lose in trying. Having to publicly acknowledge she murdered her kids, even if she will never really see it that way her self, might be enough to stop her.
It seems clear that her religion humored and encouraged her delusional thinking since childhood. People like Greg Locke (independent fundamentalist baptist), the catholic church, and many christians in general, equate mental illness with being demon possessed. We seem to be in the middle of a mental health crisis and I don’t think religion is helping.

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Are there more crazy people today than in centuries past? No way of knowing. Some religions (now and historically) embraced forms of madness and hysteria. Some religions completely eschew modern mental health.


Agreed…what we can observe is whether or not there are apparently more crazy people. It sure seems like they are more obvious than in my past, especially since “The Jackass” invaded Sanityville….making the batshittery acceptable and even mainstream, has serious ramifications.

Edit “Save the Bombadier”


While looking for data about religion + craziness, I ran across this white paper. Found it to be an interesting read, perhaps others will as well.


I concur but will temper that with thoughts that this may be a cyclical phenomenon.


Let’s “pray” that is the case…:smirk:

I believe there are more crazy people than in the past simply because there are more people . . . but if we want to talk about percentages, then I believe the percentage of crazy people is much lower.

There are even some forms of mental illness that have been largely eliminated. The best example of this is syphillitic paresis, which is a mental illness caused by neurological damage from the spirochete. Arsenic-based drugs and penicillin have largely eliminated it. Other examples include the dementia that happens with long-term untreated alcoholism.

In other cases, genetic screening has reduced the incidence of Huntington’s disease, and modern medicine has also made progress in dealing with things like bipolar disorder and certain types of psychosis.

Part of the reason why I’ve come to dislike organized religion is because it sometimes interferes with healthcare . . . especially in cases of mental health problems.

People are told by ministers that the reason they are depressed is because they don’t pray hard enough or go to church enough . . . so they get this belief that they are at fault for a chemical imbalance in the brain. So . . . this is God’s will.

It is even worse with children, as parents will often consult a minister before a doctor.


I think some of the problem is lack of access. We have quite a shortage of mental health care professionals. It’s also very expensive so the lack of health insurance is very much a factor.

They even have their own “treatment” facilities and camps, especially for teens. They usually make things worse, of course. Their idea of treatment is inflicting every torment they can think of. They combine hyper religiosity with sadism. That these places are allowed to exist is a stain on our society. The internet is going a long way to exposing them. Hopefully they will cease to exist. The sooner the better.

Agree 100%. Especially for gay conversion therapy, as homosexuality is an illness (in their minds), and they use beatings, electricity, and isolation so they can “tear him down so that they can build him back up.”

Conversion therapy drastically increases the risk of suicide, but this is OK. "It is OK because we don’t withhold chemotherapy from a cancer patient even though chemo has drastic side effects.

"After all, since homosexuals are overwhelmingly driven to be pedophiles, conversion therapy is a social obligation because we have to think of our child’s future victims.

“We can’t condone pedophilia in our family.”

This is how the religious right justifies such things.

If you guys think I’m misrepresenting things, then please see below:

Religious organizations get away with torturing children because a lot of judges, police officers, and school officials believe that gay people are pedophiles, so this “logic” rings true with them.

Shit like this is part of what drove me out of EMS, as I’ve participated in forceably transporting screaming adolescent kids to conversion therapy, and I couldn’t keep my moral compass and my job at the same time.

I felt like a Nazi, which is ironic given my Jewish background and beliefs.


Scientology sure comes to mind…


Conversion Therapy - Well, they named it right if it can “convert” a Jew to a Nazi. Though the chance of it converting a homosexual to straight is nil. I’m sorry you got traumatized like that. Why Conversion Therapy, Wilderness Therapy, Challenge Programs etc. aren’t considered child abuse beggars the imagination.

I know they hate psychiatrists. My guess is that some psychiatrist told their exalted leader, who should be back from the dead any day now, that he had a mental illness.

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I don’t neccesarily object to wilderness therapy, unless we aren’t talking about the same thing.

Wilderness hiking and camping can be very theraputic. Getting away from video games, polluted city air, and crowds of people can be quite healing.

Hiking in fresh air with the exercise, sunshine, and quiet can be healing . . . as long as it’s not an exercise in military-style sadism. If you’re talking about marching kids and training them to hunt and kill animals to make a man out of them, then I agree with you.

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