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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ind. Decisions - Should Indiana law ban the execution of the mentally ill?

Using the 7th Circuit decision Dec. 31st as an example, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in an editorial today examines the issue of imposing the death penalty on the mentally ill. Some quotes:

Reinstatement of the death penalty against Joseph Corcoran marks another sad twist in a cruel and misplaced effort to extract justice from a mentally ill man. The sentence should again be thrown out on appeal, and Indiana lawmakers, in the meantime, should finally pass a law banning the execution of the mentally ill. * * *

Such cases could be avoided in the future if a bill pending in the Indiana General Assembly is approved. Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage, has again filed legislation based on the recommendations of the Bowser Commission. Senate Bill 22 would prohibit use of the death penalty in cases where a defendant is found to suffer from a severe mental illness.

This page has long believed that justice is not achieved by killing people. But even those who support the death penalty should agree that putting to death criminals who are mentally ill serves no purpose.

A side-bar provides this summary of SB 22:
Senate Bill 22: Proposed bill establishes a procedure to determine whether a defendant charged with murder is an individual with a severe mental illness. Prohibits the imposition of the death penalty on a defendant found to be an individual with a severe mental illness. Provides that a jury serves as the fact finder in a sentencing hearing in a capital case, even if the defendant pleads guilty or is tried. … Permits a defendant to waive the right to impanel a jury during the sentencing hearing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 6, 2009 09:00 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions