The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a stay of execution for Daryl Holton and called for a full hearing to determine his mental competency. The order, issued by a three judge panel today, states that there is “reasonable cause to believe that Mr. Holton is not competent to make a rational decision to dismiss his pending federal habeas corpus petition.”
Wait! Someone with severe mental illness might not be mentally competent to make complex legal decisions!? Who would have thought?
Well, clearly we all knew that already, but the state of Tennessee seems to be slow catching on. The fact that a man with such clear mental illness came this close to execution clearly demonstrates how broken the capital punishment system is. If anyone ever needed more evidence that our system targets people with mental illness, here it is. And this is exactly why the National alliance on Mental Illness, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American Psychological Association all support a moratorium on capital punishment. The application is simply too unfair toward people suffering from mental illness.
So our evening’s protest activities are off for today, but don’t relax too much, because there are still over 100 people on Tennessee’s death row and a lot of them suffer from mental illness. It may not be long until we see the state of Tennessee attempt another execution.
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