'Furiosus Solo Furore Punitur': Should Mentally Ill Capital Offenders Be Categorically Exempt from the Death Penalty?
26 Pages Posted: 7 Feb 2014
Date Written: February 5, 2014
Rather than continuing to use mental illness as a mitigating factor in determining sentencing of the capital offender, this paper argues that the Eighth Amendment’s protection from cruel and unusual punishments should be extended to cover capital offenders who suffer from debilitating mental illness. More specifically, if a convicted offender has a medically diagnosed mental disorder as outlined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition or other similar standard for psychological evaluation, he or she should be exempt from the possibility of the imposition of death as a punishment. This paper discusses the Supreme Court cases of Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2004), Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930 (2007) and Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), and how to extend the Court's reasoning in those cases to cover mentally ill capital offenders.
Keywords: mental retardation, death penalty, mental illness, juvenile offender, mentally ill offender, Atkins, Ford, Panetti, Roper, capital punishment, mental disorder, mental disease, mental defect, capital sentencing, 8th Amendment, Eighth Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment, schizophrenia
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