ABA White Paper re Severe Mental Illness and the Death Penalty (2016)

This ABA "white paper" on "Severe Mental Illness and the Death Penalty" aims to provide readers with the rationale behind exempting those from severe mental illness from the death penalty, "as well as provide policy makers, legal professionals, and the public with all the information needed to comprehend this issue and work towards reform in state legislatures."  The Paper concludes that "[t]he death penalty is the ultimate punishment that should be reserved for the most blameworthy individuals who commit the worst crimes - and it does not serve any effective or appropriate purpose when it is applied to individuals with severe mental illness. The Supreme Court has already recognized that there are two other categories of individuals who have similar functional impairments to people with severe mental illness that are inherently "less culpable" to the point that it is unconstitutional to apply the death penalty in their cases. In light of this constitutional landscape, the growing consensus against this practice, and the fact that none of the current legal mechanisms afford adequate protection against the death penalty to those diagnosed with serious mental disorders or disabilities, it is time for the laws in U.S. capital jurisdictions to change."

Click here for full paper.