In the United States, there isn’t any categorical ban on the execution of criminals sentenced to death. However, some states have considered bills to allow for such exclusions, although none have been signed into law yet.
The grounds for commutations of the death sentence for the mentally-ill make sense. First, prisoners with a mental disorder may render the execution devoid of a punishing nature.
While the deterrent effect is undeniable, the convicted is without the mental capacity to understand why capital punishment has to happen in the first place.
Second, prisoners with impaired understanding may fail to assist lawyers in any legal proceeding before and after conviction, leading to inadequate legal defense.
Cognitive impairments that interfere with an individual’s decision-making process are ideally taken into account before sentencing.
Things get even murkier because mentally ill people are not always mentally incompetent at the same time. The following names are convicted criminals on death row diagnosed with various mental disorders.
10 Andre Thomas
One Texas death-row prisoner named Andre Thomas has severe schizophrenia that in two separate incidents, he gouged out both his eyes and ate one of them.
In 2004, Thomas killed his ex-wife Laura Boren, their son Andre Jr., and 13-month-old Leyah Hughes, Boren’s daughter by another man.
He was sentenced to death in March 2005 for the murder of Leyah Hughes. He has not been tried for the murders of the estranged wife and their 4-year-old son.
Thomas is housed in the Jester VI Unit, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice psychiatric treatment facility, awaiting execution.
9 Richard Dean Turner
In a 1979 home invasion robbery, Richard Dean Turner killed an elderly couple in San Bernardino County. He was sentenced to death on April 16, 1980.
Turner has been diagnosed with schizophrenia/psychosis. He is, for the most part, incoherent and known to rock and bangs his head.
Turner also believes he has fathered children with female guards and is a prominent musician whose songs were stolen. His appeal for the death sentence has been awaiting a decision since 2013.