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[REQUEST] Is it Ethical to Sentence a Mentally Disabled Criminal to De

Permanent Linkby milliepalmer on Wed Oct 07, 2020 8:21 am

This is a new request which hasn't been taken on by any user.

The question of whether to sentence mentally disabled criminal to the death penalty or no seems to be very easy to answer, although there are still many debates about constitutional and moral aspects of sentencing the mentally retarded convicted criminals. The article by Allison Foerschner (2010) says very clear about that: the ones who are opposing the idea of death row for people with mental diseases or disorders claim that mentally retarded convicts are not capable to response for their actions as well as they are incapable to actively participate in their own defense and even to understand what they are punished for. On the other hand the individuals who suppose that the criminals with mental diseases must be responsible for their crimes and punished in the same way as criminals with sound mind put forward another argument, that making mentally ill people free from death sentence will cause a whole catastrophe in the society, since many really dangerous inmates who are sentenced to the death penalty will use it and falsely claim themselves to be mentally disabled, pretend to be psychically ill and write hundreds of appeals about their cases. This will cause the whole tragedy, as they say, because this trick may save them not only from death, but can even give a chance to be released someday to the general population, and who knows how many more people will become their new victims.
But at first, let us understand, what means to be “mentally ill” or to suffer from a “mental disorder”. Officially, according to Mental Health America (former National Mental Health Association) and American Psychiatric Association (2009), “mental Illness is defined as any of various conditions characterized by impairment of the individual’s normal cognitive, emotional or behavioral functioning, and caused by social, psychological, biochemical, genetic or other factors, such as infection or head trauma.” So, to be mentally ill means to have any of those disabilities due to the mentioned factors, which make the ill person unable to perceive and understand the surrounding reality as well as all its elements, rules, laws, and moral norms in an adequate way.
Mental Disorder, in its turn is defined by The United States Department of Health and Human Services (2012) is a psychological pattern or an anomaly, potentially reflected in behavior, that is generally associated with distress or disability, and which is not considered part of a of normal development in a person’s culture. In general mental disorders are defined by a combination of person’s feelings, actions, minds and perception.
Judging by the definitions of the convicts’ health disorder, observed in this work, it is totally clear and easy to understand that executing mentally ill people is not just unethical, but even more, is totally immoral. And really, how can it be normal to sentence to death a criminal, who can’t understand even the nature and wrongfulness of his deeds as well as the consequences of his conduct? What’s more, death penalty towards the person, who due to the disease is incapable to understand the nature and the reason of punishment, totally breaks the main purpose and functions of the death penalty – retribution and deterrence functions. And if these functions in a certain death penalty are missing, the capital punishment automatically regresses into a murder. Following this, we see that if such murder is committed by the decision of Court, then it is not only a hard violation of the law, but also the hardest violation of human’s rights, and all of this together is not a sign of a modern democratic state, but a sign of some wild society with a total lawlessness, similar to some wild cannibal tribes, who lived thousands years B.C. But we don’t live in Stone Age any more, and the humanity requires progressive law and order system to prosper and move forward along with progress. American Bar Association resolution 122A (2006) is very clear about the death sentence towards the convicts who have mental disorders, claiming, that defendants should not be executed or sentenced to death, if at the time of the offence they had the severe mental disorder or disability that significantly affected their capacity (a) to appreciate the nature, consequences or wrongfulness of their conduct, (b) to exercise rational judgment in relation to conduct, or (c) to conform their conduct to the requirements of the law. One more argument of the statement that execution of criminals with mental disorders is absolutely unethical and inadmissible is that a mentally sick person is unable to consult with his/her lawyer and participate in his/her own defense as well as to understand the true nature of the punishment just because of person’s low level of IQ and mental disorder or illness, which are the reasons of the severe deviation in the convict’s personality and his/her perception of the world. That’s the same as to force a child with a severe intellectual disability to solve a difficult mathematical exercise and to punish him for non-completion of this task. To put it bluntly, it’s my belief, that death penalty for mentally ill criminal, even if he is guilty, is a hard stab in the back of the democracy. To prove my words, I’d like to draw your attention to the Ford v. Wainwright case mentioned by Kermani and Kantor (1994). In this case the convict whose full name is Alvin B. Ford was convicted of murder and sentenced to a capital punishment. While Ford was in the cell, he displayed behavioral changes and delusional thinking similar to psychosis. After the examination of the psychiatrist and detectives it was determined, that Alvin Ford is totally unable to make a logical chain of his conduct and punishment he got by the decision of the Court. Moreover, he was even unable to see any connection between the homicide he was guilty of and the capital punishment he was going to receive. The Ford case was heard by the Supreme Court, which prohibited executing Alvin B. Ford due to four serious reasons. Firstly, the death penalty would have questionable retributive and deterrent value, since the convict is incapable to appreciate the reasons of his punishment. Secondly, it would present no example to others and will even provoke mistrust towards the Court and justice of the entire state. Thirdly, it would simply offend the humanity and violate human’s rights. Finally, the forth reason is the direct violation of the Constitution by violating its Eighth Amendment as an instance of cruel and unusual punishment.
The next cases mentioned in Kermani and Kantor’s work (1994) raised another important issue which also provoked numerous debates and arguments. It is also very important in the questions about mentally disabled criminals and the capital punishment of such convicts. This issue touched on forcible medication of mentally disabled criminals to restore their competency in order to prepare them for the death penalty. This sharp question observed two complicated Supreme Court cases Perry v. Louisiana, Riggins v. Nevada and Washington V. Harper. Harper case will not be observed as thoroughly as Perry case, since it was not a case involving competency for execution. Harper was convicted of robbery and was forcibly medicated for being disruptive in prison. Absolutely another thing is Perry v. Louisiana and Riggins v. Nevada cases. Riggins case is an earlier case, than Perry case. In this case the main question was if the state could use forcible medication of mentally ill defendant to restore his competency to stand the trial for changes in which a guilty verdict might result in execution. Riggins was found guilty of murder and robbery and was sentenced to capital punishment. In his appeal to the United States Supreme Court, he wrote that he was forced to take the antipsychotic medication during the trial, which negatively affected his appearance and demeanor sufficiently to affect the verdict. The Supreme Court looked through the Riggins case and determined that it was the violation of the defendant’s rights under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Perry was found competent to stand trial and subsequently convicted on five counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to death. But during the course of his imprisonment he became a psychotic. Louisiana State Court observed that the convict was competent only when he was on antipsychotic medication. In this case the Supreme Court after hearing both sides did not render any opinion. Instead, the case was returned back to the Louisiana State Court with the advice from the Supreme Court to decide Penry’s case in the light of the decision made in Washington v. Harper, which was made earlier. This decision provoked myriads of new arguments, since the main issue in Perry case was not just to cure the defendant, but to cure him with the aim to prepare him to death sentence. After looking through these cases, which are really complicated, it is easy to see, that executing mentally disabled criminals is unethical and cannot be applied in modern democratic society.
Finally, the Penry case which took place in 1979, and was described by A. Foerschner (2010) is as I suppose the strongest proof of unethical nature of death penalty towards people with mental disorders. It’s my belief that this story will persuade even the most convinced followers of the idea to punish mentally ill people as well as people with sound mind. So, in 1979, 22-year old Jean Paul Penry was found guilty of raping, beating and stabbing a woman with a pair of scissors in Livingston, Texas. He could be sentenced to death, since he committed a first degree murder, but due to his severe mental and intellectual disabilities he was at the level of an average nine-to-ten year old boy. The psychiatrist who examined him pointed out that his IQ was 54, which is the sign of Moderate Retardation. What’s more, Jean Paul Penry being brain damaged from birth, experienced terrible abuse from his mother, who brutally beat him, broke his arms and even burnt him with cigarettes. What’s more, she even frequently locked him alone in the room without food, drink and sanitary facilities fro 12-14 hours. So whom this poor boy could grow with such serious disabilities in addition to such a severe abuse? Is he directly guilty that he turned into maniac? Certainly no. There’s no any doubt that his mother is to be guilty, and she must be the first to response for her child’s sufferings and mental disorders which were provoked by her terrible behavior and awful attitude towards her son. And now ask yourself a question: does poor Jean Paul deserve to be executed? Did he understand all wrongfulness of his deeds? Was he competent enough to appreciate the nature and outcomes of his conduct? I assume that the answers to these questions are clear without any comments.
After all facts mentioned above, it is clear that sentencing any mentally disabled criminal, or the one who at the moment of the offence had any mental disorder is unethical and violates human’s rights. The decisions of the Courts shown as the examples in this work, which are real and were made according to the laws of the United States of America and the Amendments of Constitution prove that mentally disabled convicts mustn’t be executed, since the capital punishment is considered to be not only the violation of the law, Constitution and human rights, but also can have a negative impact on the image of justice in the state and offend the humanity. To put it bluntly, the question of whether it is ethical to sentence the mentally disabled criminal to death is solved and is estimated as negative, since the punishment of such sort is absolutely inadmissible for a person who is incapable to response for its behavior and to understand the nature and reason of the punishment.
This material was presented by Millie Palmer is a talented writer at https://writer-elite.com/buy-an-outline-online/. She likes to depict his thoughts on the paper.

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