Applying Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment to Capital Sentencing

27 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020

See all articles by Kirk Heilbrun

Kirk Heilbrun

Drexel University

David DeMatteo

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Geoffrey Marczyk

Independent

Christina Finello

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

Perhaps no other area of law is steeped in as much controversy as capital punishment. Determining whether states have the right to execute a criminal defendant who has been convicted of a capital offense has been the subject of considerable debate among attorneys, legal scholars, legal advocacy groups, and courts of law. The controversy over capital punishment is clearly embodied in the jurisprudence relating to the death penalty, which has undergone an almost continuous process of change.

One of the most striking changes in our death penalty jurisprudence is the emergence of laws relating to capital mitigation. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, courts have been required to consider mitigating circumstances during the sentencing phases of capital cases. Under certain circumstances, the presence of mitigating factors may render the imposition of the death penalty inappropriate in a particular case. As a result of the law's mandate for juries to consider mitigating factors during the sentencing phases of capital cases, the imposition of the death penalty has presumably become less arbitrary, and the class of defendants eligible for the death penalty has been considerably narrowed.

Keywords: Health, Mental Health, Sentencing, Defendants, Mentally Retarded, Capital Punishment, Juveniles, Punishment, Weapons

Suggested Citation

Heilbrun, Kirk and DeMatteo, David and Marczyk, Geoffrey and Finello, Christina, Applying Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment to Capital Sentencing (2004). Widener Law Review, Vol. 11, No. 1, 2004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3592595

Kirk Heilbrun

Drexel University ( email )

3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

David DeMatteo (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Geoffrey Marczyk

Independent ( email )

1130 Nottingham Dr.
19380
610-662-9967 (Phone)

Christina Finello

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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