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Thursday, November 2, 2023

Alan Randall: Bad People Belong in Prison

     During the winter of 1974, 16-year-old Alan A. Randall committed more than a dozen burglaries in and around Summit, Wisconsin, a town of 4,000 in Waukesha County. In January 1975 he broke into the Summit Police Department. When officers Wayne Olson and Robert Atkins pulled up to police headquarters in their patrol car, Alan Randall, instead of either giving himself up or making a run for it, opened fire on the officers, killing them both. The burglar-turned cop killer drove from the scene in the dead officers' bullet-ridden police vehicle. That night he committed another burglary then went home to bed.

     Tried as an adult two years later the jury found Alan Randall guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. (He had also been charged with murdering his neighbor, a man named Ronald Hoeft. Due to procedural problems with the prosecution in the Hoeft killing, that case was dropped.) Because Randall's attorney had raised the defense of legal insanity the trial went into a second phase centered around the issue of his mental state at the time of the murders. The jury, having heard testimony from psychiatrists who diagnosed Randall of having a personality disorder, found him not guilty by reason of insanity.

     Today a criminal defendant with a so-called personality disorder would not be adjudged legally insane because people with this disorder are not psychotic or in any way delusional. They are fully aware of what they have done and know that the act of murder is wrong. In other words, these defendants are not insane, they are bad. Ted Bundy had a personality disorder, John Hinckley was mentally ill.

     Having been declared legally insane, Alan Randall, rather than being sent to prison for a specific period of time was packed off to a mental institution for an indefinite period. He would be eligible for release when psychiatrists said he was cured of his mental illness. Since Randall was not insane he was at least in theory eligible for release the day they admitted him into the Central State Hospital in northeast Wisconsin.

     In 1980 doctors took Randall off his anti-psychotic medication. A model patient--the best mental patients are the ones who aren't insane--Mr. Randall was transferred to the Mendota Mental Institution in Madison where he was allowed to work full time at an art gallery.

     In 1989 Alan Randall's attorney began petitioning the court for his release on grounds the patient had been cured of the mental illness that had caused him to commit the murders fourteen years earlier. Randall's psychiatrists dropped the personality disorder diagnosis and considered him sane and ready to re-enter society.

   In 1990 and 1991 judges denied Randall's quest for freedom. In 1992, psychiatrists who had plenty of real mental patients to deal with stopped spending time with him altogether.

      Alan Randall lost another bid for freedom in 1995. Finally, in April 2013, after 36 years in a mental institution a six-member jury recommended that the 54-year-old cop killer be released back into society. Since Mr. Randall had not been sent to the mental institution to be punished, the issue wasn't whether he had been punished enough. Because he wasn't crazy he didn't belong in a mental institution in the first place.

    While Alan Randall's release order did not create public outrage, some of the murder victims' relatives said they were disappointed. A widow of one of the murdered officers told reporters that in her opinion Mr. Randall, who had never publicly apologized for the murders, was not contrite. Waukesha District Attorney Brad Schimel said there was no basis upon which the state could appeal the jury's recommendation to free Mr. Randall.

     Alan Randall's attorney Craig Powell assured reporters that his client posed no threat to the community. "He's a much different person now than when he was a kid." Had Alan Randall been sentenced to prison in 1977 instead of being committed to a mental institution he would have been eligible for parole as early as 1992.

     In September 2013, Alan Randall, the cop killer who lived 36 years in an insane asylum, became a free man. 

1 comment:

  1. You were good friends in so many ways Your still miss till this Day Rocky and Wayne Officers of the Law. My Dad and Mom are with you now. I know you are Rockin with the Angels. I'm so very sorry they set him free, I pray to God He doesn't do it again