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Alternatives for Death Penalty for Mentally Challenged

The difficulties surrounding the mentally challenged who are on death row because of being convicted of capital offenses are numerous. It is evident that the Supreme Court has no consistent answers with regard to determining whether death is an appropriate punishment for this segment of the criminal population for various types of crimes. It would appear likely that at some point, the U.S Supreme Court might reverse its opinion regarding the convicted mentally retarded and death as a punishment because it was not based upon the Constitution of the United States nor was it based upon any legal precedent or requirement. By making its decision based on the notion of “general consensus,” it has created the opportunity for individuals to present cases regarding a multitude of issues to the Supreme Court that may lead to legal chaos. Additionally, this ruling has in effect given the Supreme Court power that it before did not enjoy. Since the whole basis of their decisions were to be based upon their interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and legal precedence, this deviation from this course has “opened the door” to other “general consensus” verdicts. Paper Masters can compose a custom written research paper on Death Penalty for Mentally Challenged that follows your guidelines.

Alternatives for Death Penalty for Mentally Challanged

Mentally Challenged and Crime

The members of the Supreme Court did utilize this “general consensus” basis in terms of stating “the execution of mentally retarded people is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment”. The reasons that one might argue against having mentally challenged individuals receive the death penalty are:

  1. The fact that an individual with limited understanding and learning disabilities, who has a limited sense of right and wrong, cannot commit a crime that was deserving of the death penalty.
  2. With such limited understanding, the threat of death as a punishment has even less deterrence than it might have for individuals with the capacity for greater understanding.
  3. For offenders who have greater capacities for understanding, the use of the death penalty might be more frightening, and thus, the punishment is crueler than it would be for the mentally challenged. 

Alternatives for Death Penalty and Youth Offenders

Consequently, alternatives to utilizing the death row for convicted capital offenders who are mentally retarded must be established. Obviously, the mentally retarded are significantly different from youth who commit crimes or even individuals who are insane at the time of their crimes. Adolescents who commit capital crimes can mature and be rehabilitated in their thought processes and decision-making. Most experts note that juvenile delinquents typically come from a dysfunctional family and have not learned empathy for others . Empathy training has been effective in reducing recidivism rates for juveniles. Individuals who are mentally sane can also be treated. Medication and therapy can reduce the criminal’s symptoms and potentially reduce the likelihood of his or her becoming a repeat offender.

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