Leading from the Left

Monday, May 14, 2007

Killing the Mentally Ill

Senator Ellie Kinnaird has introduced legislation to prevent the state from executing the mentally ill. This is an extremely important piece of legislation, and I'm thrilled Senator Kinnaird and others are pursuing it. I'm against the death penalty...period. But even if you're a supporter, does it really seem humane to execute folks who suffer from a mental illness? Does someone with schizophrenia have enough awareness that their actions are wrong to warrant execution?

Clearly, someone who commits a heinous crime should be punished, even if they have a mental illness. But the death penalty is not the appropriate punishment. Here's the N&O article on Senator Kinnaird's bill.

This, of course, begs the question: since NC's mental health system is in disarray, shouldn't we be concerned with the ramifications to our criminal justice system? If the severely mentally ill do not get the treatment they need, if they fall through the cracks, we may see more of them in the trouble with the law. The bottom line is this: as a society, we're going to pay either way so why not support mental health sytem that functions well and gets adequate treatment to those who need it?