Schizophrenia

Supreme Court Will Not Intervene in the Execution of Mentally Ill Convict John Errol Ferguson

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The Supreme Court announced Monday it will not intervene in the Florida execution of John Errol Ferguson, who is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The stay of execution refused, Ferguson will die at 6 p.m. on Monday.

Convicted of murdering eight people in 1977 and 1978, Ferguson has been on death row for decades.

He has been repeatedly diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, although the designation “paranoid” was recently dropped in the DSM-5.

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That diagnosis means his execution is unconstitutional, the New York Times reported. The Supreme Court did not agree.

Ferguson called himself the “Prince of God” and said he could “control the sun.” By most standards that kind of thinking would make a person appear mentally incompetent.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness rallied in his corner.

“There are significant gaps in the legal protection accorded severely mentally ill defendants charged with or convicted of a capital crime,” says the website for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Most notably, this country still permits the execution of the severely mentally ill. The problem is not a small one. A leading mental health group, Mental Health America, estimates that five to ten percent of all death row inmates suffer from a severe mental illness.”

Sources: New York Times, ThinkProgress