Crime & Law Enforcement Issues & Death Penalty/Death penalty for the insane


QUESTION: Dear Mr. Sharp,

I'm an unpublished writer and I'm working on a fictional piece. I'm doing a bit of research about a politician with extreme views. Some of my reading included a mentally-ill man, Kelsey Patterson who was eventually executed for murder.

> What would it take for the government to more readily sanction the execution of the criminally insane in our day and age?

> Is there a push right now in government or a political group for this action?

I appreciate your time during your busy schedule. Thank you.



ANSWER: David:

1) The case description you linked only presents the defense side of the case, which is much weaker than the prosecution side. That becomes apparent when  you find that Patterson was executed. For a balanced review of the case I recommend that you read the appellate decisions, which weigh both sides and concluded that be should be executed.

2) In our day and age in the US, the provably inseane will never be executed. Law requires that defendants are able to, construtively, participate in their own defense, be aware of right and wrong, be aware of the criminal process and the nature of both their crime and sanction.

By law, the insane are not able to do all of those and can, therefore, not be executed. That will never change.

I am unaware of any push to execute the insane, nor would I anticipate that any such effort would be made or would be successful.

Often, some confuse and run together the various debates about the insame, the mentall retarded and the mentally ill.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Sharp for your speedy reply.

I'm not a lawyer. I'm interested specifically in the criminally insane, e.g. Charles Manson. I was aware that Patterson was executed.

I have found notes of cases, where the criminally insane have been executed-- mostly in Texas:

> Is this a trend or an anomaly?

> And what is the difference between the criminally insane and the mentally ill?

> Isn't it legally, even socially plausible that a very fatigued society can push for capital punishment for the criminally insane?

I did take into consideration your time, and I condensed my questions. Thank you again.




As I ended my last response:

"Often, some confuse and run together the various debates about the insame, the mentally retarded and the mentally ill."

You seem to be doing that with your link to the Mother Jones article.

As I previously stated, you must go to primary sources, mainly the appellate court record.

Mother Jones as an unquestioned anti death penalty source and none of the case reviews told you the facts from the cases, as presented by both sides within the appellate record.

You will not know if there is a trend or an anomoly, until you first know the reality of the cases, none of which you, now, know, if those are your only sources.

Criminally insane is an extreme case of mental illness. There are many mental illnesses, in type and/or severity, that would allow a murderer to be held legally liable (including execution) for their crimes and other mental illnesses, in type and/or severity which would not allow for a criminal prosecution, with any type of sanction.

Under no circumstances can I, reasonably, imagine that the criminally insane could be executed for their crimes in the US.  

Crime & Law Enforcement Issues & Death Penalty

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Dudley Sharp


Any question specific to the death penalty.


Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, BBC and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, Oprah, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author. A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally. Partial List: --- Guest Lecturer, US Department of State, Senior Seminar, National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Washington DC, March 30, 1999 ---"Equal Treatment and the Death Penalty: A Conference"; Participant, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York, November 11, 2002 --- Participant, The Governor's (Illinois) Commission on Capital Punishment. I was asked to present a paper on deterrence and the death penalty. I presented two papers -- one on deterrence and one on innocence issues. 2001 --- "Rethinking the Death Penalty", Nightline, ABCNews, 6/22/00. Interesting discussion with former Florida Supreme Court Justice Kogan, who somehow confused the concept of alleged innocent death row inmates released on appeal with innocent death row inmates executed. ---- "The Death Penalty", This Week with Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts, ABC News, 6/4/00 Appearance with Illinois Governor George Ryan, discussing moratoriums and innocence issues. --- "Death Penalty Update", The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, 7/30/00 PBS. A review of death penalty issues. --- "Do We Need the Death Penalty? Yes", an essay, The World and I Magazine, September 2002, at continued below

Mr. Sharp is, now, an independent, non affiliated activist Prior to that time, he was Vice President, Political Director, Chairman of the Endorsement Committee and member of the Board of Directors of Justice For All from July 1993, when JFA was founded, through January 2000. He was Resource Director for JFA through 2003. Justice For All is a criminal justice reform organization based in Houston, Texas. In those positions, he was an active participant in every major issue undertaken by JFA, including policy direction, lobbying, victim's assistance and public presentations. He created the process for endorsing political candidates, forming a political endorsement committee, investigating the background of candidates, developing a questionnaire used to explore the candidates true positions on criminal justice and victim's issues resulting, finally, in a committee recommendation for endorsements. He is a death penalty expert who was opposed capital punishment until December 1995. Tulane U., BA Philosophy 1978

1) Newspapers around the world 2) "Death Penalty Debate", between Eric Zorn, an anti-death penalty columnist with the Chicago Tribune, and Dudley Sharp. April-June, 2000. Visits many of today's major death penalty issues in an in-depth format and is an illustration that assumption, not fact, often guide reporting on this issue. 3) Blogs/websites a) ProDPinNC B) c) Chapters in Books "The Mentally Retarded do not Face Execution", Is The Death Penalty Fair?, Greenhaven Press, Mary Williams editor, 2003 "Innocent People Have Not Been Executed", from Problems of Death, Opposing Viewpoints Series, Greenhaven Press, 2000 "The Death Penalty Should Be Retained", from Capital Punishment, Current Controversies, Greenhaven Press, 2000 "The Death Penalty is Just", Dudley Sharp, p 17-15, also pages 11 & 62, The Death Penalty, Opposing Viewpoints, Thompsaon/Gale 2006 "The Death Penalty", pg 26,31,33, 39, 79, Current Issues, Reference Point Press, 2012

continued --- "The Death Penalty", Speaker, Annual meeting of the American Corrections Association, San Antonio, Texas, 1997. Debate between myself and Richard Burr, a well known death penalty defense attorney and anti death penalty activist. --- "Capital punishment is an effective way to protect innocent people", May 27, 2000 - St. Louis Post Dispatch. Many more innocents will be put at risk by not executing. Scroll down about halfway to reach the letter --- "Death on Hold?", Fort Worth Star Telegram, 2/5/00. Why a moratorium on executions is unwarranted. --- "Bias on the death penalty", Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/23/01, deals with the racial issues. --- "Washington Journal", C-SPAN, 4/19/01. Death penalty moratorium issues, with Jane Henderson of the Quixote Center in Maryland, coordinator of the Equal Justice Project. A great show to view virtually all the false and misleading information put forward by the anti-death penalty movement. ---, Taking Sides, essay "Exoneration Hype Exaggerated", 5/10/00. A brief essay regarding the absence of journalistic standards when dealing with issues of innocence and the death penalty. It is the second article down. --- "ABA's Proposed Moratorium Relies on Flimsy Facts", The Texas Lawyer, March 16, 1997. An article showing how inaccurate and misleading the American Bar Association was in their foundation in asking for a moratorium on executions. --- "Guilty as Charged", Wall Street Journal, A22, 6/28/00. Co-authored with Dianne Clements, an article about the highly publicized case of executed Texas murderer Gary Graham.

Past/Present Clients
--- Testimony before the Pennsylvania State Senate Judiciary Committee, February 2000. Death Penalty Moratorium legislation -- Alaska Senate Judiciary Committee, Death Penalty Testimony, July 1997. Testimony regarding referendum on the death penalty and other death penalty issues --- Texas Legislature, testimony in both House and Senate regarding death penalty issues and bills.

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