A few weeks ago, a man tried to commit suicide by slicing his neck with a shaving razor. He is luckily saved by physicians. His condition is still critical.
His name is Gary Welch, and his execution is planned for January 5th, 2012, in Oklahoma.
Mental instability, mental illness and mental retardation are nothing new on US Death Row. Gary Welch is no exception from the rule, he is one of many death row inmates in acute need of professional psychiatric care. Most of them have been failed by society from their first breath, through their teenage years to adulthood. The ultimate deceit is in their death: State sanctioned murder of severely ill human beings.
A few days ago, Death Penalty Focus published an article about mental illness on US death row. This article refers to several collections of facts and research about mental illness on US death row. What strikes me is that most of the information gathered is from research that is several years old. The most recent collection of facts is from 2009. The presented numbers of people executed with a mental illness must have increased since then.
A sample of facts picked from the article Mental illness on death row:
Since 1983, over 60 people with mental illness or retardation have been executed in the United States.
It is conservatively estimated that 5-10% of death row inmates suffer from serious mental illness.
Research has shown that nearly all Death Row inmates suffer from brain damage due to illness or trauma, while a vast number have also experienced histories of severe physical and/or sexual abuse.
Legislation has been passed barring the execution of juvenile or mentally retarded individuals. While it is unconstitutional to execute the insane, those suffering from other or lesser mental illnesses are insufficiently protected under the law.
Gary Welch’s attempted suicide shows the personal tragedy that follows in the steps of all death row inmates: Men and women driven to the deepest and darkest voids by an extreme and unpredictable system.
Furthermore, it illustrates the macabre moral of the US capital punishment:
We heal you, so that we can kill you.
To protest Gary Welch’s execution, click here.