January 31, 2006
Amnesty International’s report today on people with serious mental illnesses and the death penalty represents a compelling step forward in making the case that profound injustice exists at the most painful intersection of the mental healthcare and criminal justice systems in America.
NAMI opposes the death penalty for people with serious mental illnesses. The law has not kept pace with modern science. The criminal justice system is ill-suited to address biologically-based brain disorders that create illogical, confused patterns of thought.
Juries are called upon to apply narrow, irrelevant legal definitions to people who do not fit those terms. The law tries to paint bright lines between right and wrong in order to evaluate psychosis, delusions, and hallucinations. The death penalty poses issues that typically are never considered:
NAMI congratulates and thanks Amnesty International for its contribution to this growing debate.
We call on state legislatures to eliminate the death penalty in such cases.
We also believe the U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately rule its application to people with serious mental illness unconstitutional.
For Copy of Amnesty International Report:
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