14 years ago, Bartelio Maxi, a 23-year-old schizophrenic taxi driver, was at home with his aunt when he heard a voice instructing him to kill her. Unable to ignore the commands, Bartelio grabbed a butcher knife, lunged at his aunt and slit her throat, killing her. Bartelio was found "Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity" (NGRI) and sent to a little-known isolated slip of land off of New York City, known as the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center. He has been living in the Kirby Center's Ward 2-West ever since.

Bartelio is one of the handful of defendants per year to be granted the insanity plea in New York State. Had his defense not prevailed, the alternative was a jail sentence at one of the scores of state correctional facilities. Instead he lives as a psychiatric patient on Ward 2-West, with 26 others found NGRI. Over 70% were charged with homicide.

Who are the patients at Kirby and where did they come from? What are the life factors that have lead them to commit these terrible crimes? Should they be here rather then a state prison?

Loki Films was granted exclusive and unprecedented access from the State of New York to capture the life of the mentally ill who live, sometimes for decades, inside this hospital. The film also trails mental health expert and Legal Aid attorney Robert Peck as he advises his clients on the benefits and pitfalls of the Insanity Plea. The film is the first documentary to truly explore this most notorious and misunderstood defense in the criminal justice system.

WARD 2 WEST is a journey to the fascinating intersection of murder and madness.