How Crazy Is Too Crazy for the Death Penalty?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Marc Bookman, longtime capital defense lawyer, talks about the case of Andre Thomas in Texas and looks at the moral and legal contradictions around executing people who are mentally ill. Bookman has been a death penalty lawyer since 1993, and now runs the Atlantic Center for Capital representation, a nonprofit devoted to capital defense. His article “How Crazy Is Too Crazy for the Death Penalty?” appears in Mother Jones Magazine.


Marc Bookman

Comments [12]

Gene Aronowitz from Brooklyn

The implication of this and similar discussions is that some people, the non-crazy (or others who are no longer subject to the death penalty), do deserve to die because of what they have done. This implication is a disservice to terminally ill people who are known to often wonder “what did I do to deserve this illness.” Linking death with punishment in society brings about and reinforces this thought personally. It would help those who are or will be terminally ill to eliminate capital punishment entirely.

Feb. 16 2013 09:58 AM
J.D. from dt Manhattan

Who's crazy? Progressive humanitarians support a president who kills kids and other innocents with predator drones, and who assumes dictatorial powers that spell the end of democracy. Media spokespersons daily refer to the hegemonic power of the Federal Reserve banking system without questioning its legitimacy. NYPD regularly hauls criminal suspects and whistle blowers into Bellevue's emergency psych ward for drugging and interrogation in order to deny them their civil rights, yet "experts" never question the practices of THE STATE-appointed quacks carrying out this medieval torture.

Feb. 15 2013 12:44 PM
Joel Schwalb from Nyack

Aren't all acts of killing another human an act of someone who is mentally ill. Don't you have to be at least a little crazy to kill.

Feb. 15 2013 12:40 PM
Linda Griggs from LES

When someone is that mentally ill I wonder if it's not more decent to allow a mercy killing, not an execution. It must be torture to live in his head.

Feb. 15 2013 12:39 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

How about considering the (old fashioned, I know) litmus of "rehabilitatable?" Given, we don't do much rehab for any criminals these days before returning them to society, but the public deserves this consideration.

Feb. 15 2013 12:39 PM
John A.

How many countries think the US is 'deficient' for just having capitol punishment?

Feb. 15 2013 12:38 PM

The death penalty is only a deterrent to violent crime when administered at the time of the crime by an armed victim. See Lott, "More Guns, Less Crime".
State administered death is not a deterrent.
State administered death carries the danger of overuse, and use against the innocent. See Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot.

Feb. 15 2013 12:32 PM
mbzzzzzz from CT

IF we have capital punishment I see no reason why the insane should be spared. In fact, perhaps preference should be given. I personally wouldn't care if I or a loved one was killed by an insane or not insane person, either should face justice.

Feb. 15 2013 12:31 PM
thatgirl from manhattan

Let's stop using "overdosing" on cough medicine as an excuse for a lack of rational thought, it's a false equivalence to real mental health. Yes--habitual drug use destroys the brain's defense against addiction, and certainly rational behavior, but doesn't there have to be proof of a longer propensity to irrational behavior than might be suggested by something so base as cough syrup?

And yeah, Mick - We're talking about Texas, who wave irrational behavior around as some kind of birthright.

Feb. 15 2013 12:26 PM
john from office

So the answer here is for the society to keep an insane person alive for the rest of his life? with all the costs involved and medical treatment.


Feb. 15 2013 12:20 PM
George from Astoria

What difference does it make if they are mentally ill.
If someone commits a horrible crime they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law regardless of whether they are mentally ill.

I don't understand why a mentally ill person should get different treatment.

The actions of a sane or insane person are still actions.

Feb. 15 2013 12:19 PM
Mick from Inwood

What do you expect in Texas? Schizophrenia is the normal state there...look at their politics.

Feb. 15 2013 12:16 PM

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