Sunday, February 28, 2016

Why are so many mentally disabled people on death row?

The relationship between the death penalty and mental illness has always been a controversial topic. In 1989 with the Supreme court case in Penry v. Lynaugh it was ruled that it was constitutional to execute a mentally ill person who committed a capital crime. Eventually in 1994, Congress passed the Federal Death Penalty Act which included the ill being free from being under death row. Overall, the execution of the mentally ill is illegal but there is still a number of the mentally ill that are executed or not given the proper treatment while imprisoned. 

First, the mentally ill need to treated fairly and given the proper treatment. We cannot just judge them as a regular citizen with no consideration. If they are put under pressure and being interrogated with no consideration, they are more likely to be put on death row without a proper procedure. Society has such a negative view of the mentally ill and there is a lot of stigma around mental health. Society has a fear of the mentally ill when having to do with capital offenses. There are some cases where capital offenders commit crimes and they suffer from a mental illness. However, this is definitely not all cases concerning capital crimes. People have a fear for these kind of cases with mental illness and crimes and are quick to make decisions in court. 

Even though capital punishment is illegal against the mentally ill, there are still many mental health professionals who say that there are still many prisoners who aren't getting proper treatment for their illnesses. We need to understand that the mentally ill are unable to fully understand their actions in some cases and the consequences. We need the role of mental health professionals to help distinguish the mentally ill and help treat those in need. We need to be just and give fair treatment to the mentally disabled.