Position Statement Death Penalty and People with Mental Illnesses | Mental Health America
Many capital defendants suffer from serious mental disorders that present a and, finally, whether a person understands the relationship between his execution. There is a difference between mental illness — which encompasses a to shield mentally ill people from the death penalty, saying only that. Mental Illness and Capital Punishment: Potential Complications There is no doctor-patient relationship between the forensic psychiatrist and.
The legal system separates three types of mental disorders: All may play a role in a defendant's case, but they are distinct conditions that are handled differently by the legal system because they affect an individual's reasoning, and therefore culpability, differently. Intellectual Disability Intellectual disability is characterized by "significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers many everyday social and practical skills. This disability originates before the age of Virginia that individuals with intellectual disabilities cannot be executed because they are categorically less culpable than other criminals.
Similar reasoning was used when the Court later held that executing juveniles was unconstitutional. Click here to read more about Intellectual Disabilities and the Death Penalty. Mental Illness Mental illness is defined by the National Alliance on Mental Illness as a medical condition "that disrupt[s] a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Having a mental illness does not exempt an inmate from the death penalty, but it can be presented as a mitigating factor during the sentencing phase of a capital trial.
Insanity Insanity roughly corresponds to a severe form of mental illness in which the individuals afflicted are so out of touch with reality that they do not know right from wrong and cannot understand their punishment or the purpose of it.
Insanity can affect a capital case in three ways: If a defendant was insane at the time of the crime, he or she can be found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Position Statement 54: Death Penalty and People with Mental Illnesses
Regardless of whether the defendant is able to show the causation required by the insanity defense, no one should be threatened or put to death while experiencing serious mental illness. It is irrational to use the death penalty when there is no evidence that it enhances deterrence, and rehabilitation is possible.
No death penalty for people with intellectual disabilities. Supreme Court prohibited the use of the death penalty for persons who had intellectual disabilities at the time of the offense.
This includes the execution itself. Supreme Court is on record that no legitimate government purpose is served by the execution of someone who is not competent at the time of the execution. Therefore, Mental Health America MHA calls upon federal and state governments not to threaten or use the death penalty for any accused who suffered from mental illness at the time of the crime, trial, sentencing, or execution.
Competency assessments and hearings should be required. The federal and state governments should require and provide funding for appointed counsel and a full competency hearing for all individuals who appear to have questionable competency. Failure to consider mental status early in the process paves the way for execution.
No involuntary treatment for execution. MHA is opposed to the practice of having a psychiatrist or other mental health professional treat a person against their will in order to restore competency solely to permit the state to execute that person, and MHA opposes the practice of medicating defendants involuntarily in order to make them competent either to stand trial or to be executed.
Racial disparities compel a moratorium.
Research studies have demonstrated that a persistent pattern of racial disparities exists in the implementation of the death penalty. African-American defendants are significantly more likely to receive the death sentence than white defendants. Background Although precise statistics are not available, it is estimated that at least 20 percent of people on death row have a serious mental illness.
The process of determining guilt and imposing sentence is necessarily more complex for individuals with mental health conditions. A high standard of care is essential when providing legal representation as well as psychological and psychiatric evaluation for individuals with mental health conditions involved in death penalty cases.
Class Mental Health Issues | Capital Punishment
Some states require a prediction of future dangerousness in order to impose a death sentence. In fact, research shows that people with mental illness pose only an insignificantly greater risk of violence than the average person.
MHA believes that having a mental illness is a mitigating circumstance that should be taken into consideration during sentencing. Unfortunately, research shows that evidence of mental illness is often not provided during sentencing,  and jurors often misperceive mental illness as aggravating evidence rather than mitigating evidence,  which together increase the possibility of inappropriate application of the death penalty to people with mental illnesses.
Inthe Supreme Court ruled in Ford v. Whether the aim is to protect the condemned from fear and pain without comfort of understanding, or to protect the dignity of society itself from the barbarity of exacting mindless vengeance, the restriction finds enforcement in the Eighth Amendment.
Similarly, MHA is opposed to the practice of medicating defendants involuntarily in order to make them competent to stand trial.