Death Penalty and Mental Illness

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Scott Panetti

Texas Wants to Kill This Mentally Ill Man

By Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am
Wearing a cowboy costume and a purple bandana, Scott Panetti defended himself at his capital trial in Texas without counsel, where he tried to call the Pope, J.F.K, and Jesus Christ to the witness stand. In Tennessee, Richard Taylor represented himself in his capital trial wearing sunglasses to keep out the police voices and sat completely silent through his trial. Guy LeGrande served as his own lawyer at his capital trial in North Carolina, wearing a Superman shirt and telling the jury to kiss his “natural black ass” in closing argument.
An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row

An Innocent Man Is Dying of Cancer on Texas's Death Row

By Sarah Solon, Communications Strategist, ACLU at 2:53pm

Max Soffar has a long history of self-medicating. When he was four, his parents found him passed out next to their car, gas cap in hand. Since birth, Max's brain has been damaged. That damage has been made worse by years of physical and mental abuse…

Florida Will Kill Severely Mentally Ill Man Unless Supreme Court Intervenes

Florida Will Kill Severely Mentally Ill Man Unless Supreme Court Intervenes

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:22am

Unless the United States Supreme Court intervenes in the next few days, Florida will execute John Ferguson on August 5, despite a well-documented history of his psychosis spanning over 40 years.

Will the Supreme Court Stop Georgia from Executing an Intellectually Disabled Man?

Will the Supreme Court Stop Georgia from Executing an Intellectually Disabled Man?

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 12:24pm

When Georgia death-row prisoner Warren Hill was young, his sister remembers their mother and grandfather calling him "stupid retard,"...

How Do I Explain to my Six Year-Old Son What Kind of a Society Plans to Execute an Intellectually Disabled Man? [UPDATED]

How Do I Explain to my Six Year-Old Son What Kind of a Society Plans to Execute an Intellectually Disabled Man? [UPDATED]

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 12:09pm

Breaking Update, 2:30pm, February 14th: State doctors reversed an earlier finding and officially declared today that Warren Hill has mild mental retardation, placing Mr. Hill in the category of citizens protected from capital punishment by the 2002…

New Film Highlights the Gross Injustices of the West Memphis Three Case

New Film Highlights the Gross Injustices of the West Memphis Three Case

By Anna Arceneaux, Staff Attorney, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:44pm

In June 1993, Damien Echols, 18, Jason Baldwin, 16, and Jessie Misskelley, 17, who would come to be known as the “West Memphis Three,” were wrongfully arrested for the murders of three young boys in the small Arkansas town of West Memphis,…

Update: Intellectually Disabled Georgia Man Faces Monday Execution if Supreme Court Does Not Step In

Update: Intellectually Disabled Georgia Man Faces Monday Execution if Supreme Court Does Not Step In

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 11:47am

Georgia stands poised to execute Warren Hill on Monday even though a Georgia court affirmed yesterday that Hill has an IQ of only 70.

A Tale of Three States: Executing the Mentally Disabled

A Tale of Three States: Executing the Mentally Disabled

By Brian Stull, ACLU Capital Punishment Project at 3:54pm

Georgia: On Monday, the State of Georgia stands ready to strap Warren Hill to a gurney, place IV lines in his arms, and pump his body with poison until he dies.  Warren Hill has an IQ of 70, and is intellectually disabled (mentally retarded).…

Ohio Governor John Kasich Stops Second Consecutive Execution

Ohio Governor John Kasich Stops Second Consecutive Execution

By Mike Brickner, ACLU of Ohio at 4:44pm

In the second time in as many months, Governor John Kasich has intervened to stop an execution. Today, he commuted John Jeffrey Eley’s sentence to life without the possibility of parole. Eley was scheduled to be executed on July 26.

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