Fair Punishment Project: AR is going to execute men who are mentally ill, intellectually disabled, or had inadequate lawyers.

A report published today by Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project says the eight men Arkansas plans to execute, two a day, over a 10-day span next month all either have mental illness, are intellectually disabled, or had inadequate legal representation.
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Harvard’s Fair Punishment Project published a report today examining the cases of the eight men Arkansas plans to execute over a 10-day span next month. The report’s authors say what they found is “devastating.”

The report says:

“At least five of the eight cases involve a person who appears to suffer from a serious mental illness or intellectual impairment. One of these men was twenty at the time of the crime, suffered a serious head injury, and has a 70 IQ score. Another man suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and believes that he is on a mission from God. . . . A sixth condemned inmate endured shocking sexual and physical abuse–he was burned, beaten, stabbed, and raped, and his mother pimped him out to various adults throughout his preteen and teen years. In the two remaining cases, there is no evidence to suggest that the attorneys ever conducted even a minimally adequate mitigation investigation to determine if their clients had any illnesses or disabilities.”

Furthermore, the report says that all eight men had legal representation that “falls short of any reasonable standard of effectiveness–one lawyer was drunk in court, while another struggled with mental illness. Several of the lawyers missed deadlines, failed to visit their clients, and continued on a case despite the appearance of a conflict of interest. Taken together, these cases present a foundational challenge to the legitimacy and integrity of the death penalty in Arkansas.”

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