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January 25, 2017

"Pro-Con: Death Penalty Exemption For Severly Mentally Ill"

The title of this post is the label given by a Cleveland paper to these two dueling commentaries addressing the recommendation from the Ohio Death Penalty Task Force (on which I had the honor of serving) to create a statutory exemption from capital punishment for people with serious mental illnesses. Here are the headlines and links to the commentaries:

January 25, 2017 at 11:53 PM | Permalink


You are offered a choice of cellmates in high security prison. One is a mob assassin who has murdered 50 mob associates. The other is a paranoid schizophrenic who stabbed his mother 50 times because she did not move fast enough to get him his cigarettes. He tells you that for years, his mother had tormented him by beaming magnetic waves at his brain, to cause a buzzing noise in his head.

You are concerned about your personal safety. You would choose which offer?

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 26, 2017 6:14:37 PM

There is a third viewpoint. It is that from earth, from reality.

The mentally ill murderer is far more dangerous to future victims than other murderers. Mentally ill murderers should be fast tracked to the death penalty if its purpose is future safety, rather than retribution, a religious originated purpose. General deterrence violates procedural due process, because it punishes a person to scare future criminals he has never met and over whom he has no control. The death penalty has legitimacy only if serves to protect future victims.

The above lawyer viewpoints are ridiculous, silly. They would be laughable if they were not vehicles for a multi-$billion business of death penalty appeals. So they are not funny. They are rent seeking. That is an euphemism for armed robbery, and it should be formally criminalized. That would mean that both sides of the appellate bar, and especially, appellate judges, including all Justices of the Supreme Court, would be prosecuted. The players of this lucrative business would be sent to prison for sentences equivalent to those of armed robbery.

Posted by: David Behar | Jan 26, 2017 11:44:50 PM

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