Applying Principles of Forensic Mental Health Assessment to Capital Sentencing
27 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2020
Date Written: 2004
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
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