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FL Judge: Schizophrenic death row inmate’s Jesus visions no crazier than many Christians’

By Frederick Sparks

He’s sane enough for us to kill him.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court in Ford v. Wainright confirmed the common law principle that execution of the mentally insane violates the constitution (” For today, no less than before, we may seriously question the retributive value of executing a person who has no comprehension of why he has been singled out and stripped of his fundamental right to life.”).  And while the justices have also ruled against execution of the mentally retarded, there is no federal proscription against the execution of those whose mental illness falls short of the definition of legal insanity, a definition that is, for the most part, determined by procedures prescribed by the individual states.

In 1977, John Ferguson and two accomplices looking for drugs broke into a private home and murdered six people. Six months later, Ferguson came across a young couple parked in the car and murdered them both after raping the girl.   Ferguson also has a long, thoroughly documented history of paranoid schizophrenia; documented in the court system, no less.

Yet in deciding an appeal to stop the execution, Florida Circuit Court Judge David Glant ruled that “there is no evidence that he does not understand what is taking place and why it is taking place.” Particularly in addressing Ferguson’s claims that he is the “Prince of God” and will be resurrected with Jesus in the afterlife, Judge Glant said

“There is no evidence that Ferguson’s belief as to his role in the world and what may happen to him in the afterlife is so significantly different from beliefs other Christians may hold so as to consider it a sign of insanity.”

Glant describes this as a “relatively normal Christian belief”.

While the low hanging fruit in this story may be a judge equating the religious beliefs of a paranoid schizophrenic to those of mainstream Christians, the larger issues is one of a country that still carries out the death penalty, and still executes people with serious mental illness.  It is estimated that 5-1o% of death row inmates suffer from serious mental illness and that since 1983 60 people with mental illness or retardation have been executed.

Comments

  1. smrnda says

    A good question is whether or not he would have committed any crimes if he would have received proper treatment.

    • fredericksparks says

      Particularly since a previous evaluation stated “He has a long-standing, severe illness which will most likely require long-term inpatient hospitalization. This man is dangerous and cannot be released under any circumstances.”

  2. Rodney Nelson says

    I suspect the judge was more influenced by Ferguson killing eight people than Ferguson’s mental condition.

    • fredericksparks says

      well the issue at hand in this matter was his mental condition so the judge shouldn’t have been “more influenced” by anything else.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Not that Glant deserves a whole lot of slack, but it’s no easy job to assess “sanity” by prevailing community standards in Florida

    (This comment was written about 7 miles from Glant’s courtroom.)

  4. says

    I would argue that anyone who kills someone else is by definition insane, and thus immune from the death penalty.

    But I think Rodney has the right of it: Glant saw a murderer and had to come up with a way to satisfy his own bloodlust. Ferguson is clearly incompetent, but that doesn’t matter to vigilante judges. I am curious, though: Ferguson is black. Is there any doubt that a white defendant would have been given the mental competency defense?

    • says

      Only one data point but this white schizophrenic was saved from the death penalty.
      http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/005290.html

      The Supreme Court yesterday blocked the execution of a Texas death-row inmate who suffers from schizophrenia, in a ruling that may allow more mentally ill condemned prisoners to contest their death sentences.

      Unless you are black, or are as schizophrenic as the average christian…

  5. says

    The Judge in this case clearly represents a Mentality that is pervasive in what passes for the U.S.Justice System: The BAR (British Accreditation Registry)(Bias organ continumum). Remember why we dumped the Tea in the Harder in the first place? When the Prosecutor, the Judge and your Attorney are practicing cult (BAR) members, the U.S. Constitution is used only as a front tool for cult’s objectives. The Judge really believes what he is decreeing. Clearly, the Judge’s mental pattern-of-thought is suspect and in more need of review than the accused. Upon research, it may be determined that the Judge’s mental pattern-of-thought is more detremental to society.

  6. mick says

    Just because everyone else around you is stark raving crazy does not mean that stark raving crazy is the new ‘normal’ benchmark. The ‘normal’ benchmark is an ability to know what to do next given the available information… even if you fail to do what’s right…or apt, trying to do it, or covering up a failure to do it demonstrates culpability and intent.

    If we are to start separating out the insane from the sane by first trying to get to grips with the inmates personal religious convictions, then we may as well start separating all the better tasting beef from the herd based on how many moo’s they give on an average day…

    The crazy people are the ones that take actions on things they believe but also know won’t work. Christians ‘know’ that praying is just words in their head that never worked except by accident… they know it so much they actively take steps to remove the failed attempts from their own experience. In other words they are crazy…. they aren’t any less so just because everyone around them is equally as crazy as a bag of frogs.

    The point was missed I think in that all 85% of the US population should be incarcerated pending a review of their mental health because they might apply ideas in the last book of the bible to their daily lives. And they do… they try to apply it… knowing it won’t work. They are driven somehow to try to apply stuff they know is dangerous immoral, wrong etc… and they do so knowing it is such. Where they originally developed that idea from, or the fact others share it… well that’s truly irrelevant.

    Same with the Christians that kill their kids…. they know the best thing to do is seek medical attention… they choose not to do that…we should not be concerned with the reasons why…it immaterial. They are crazy but should still get the punishment…crazy or not.

    Christians are allowed to kill their kids it seems. It seems the religiosity is a form of mental illness that gives you both immunity to jail time, the death sentence and also being declared insane…surely those are incompatible positions?

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