(WASHINGTON, DC) — The state of Texas is scheduled to execute a man with a history of severe mental illness tonight. Derrick Dewayne Charles has been suffering symptoms of mental impairments nearly his entire life and was hospitalized for mental illness as early as 10 years old.
Given his mental impairments, counsel for Charles have argued that there is a high risk he is so mentally ill he cannot comprehend why the State is executing him—which would make his execution unconstitutional. Three psychologists have recommended, one as recent as March of this year, that Charles undergo a complete neuropsychological evaluation designed to determine whether he is competent to be executed. In the US, only seven states conducted executions last year, and three states (Texas, Missouri and Florida) accounted for more than 80 percent of executions.
“The death penalty is a costly, broken system that risks innocent lives and serves no useful purpose,” said Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA. “Though executions have steadily declined in recent years and are now at an all-time low, Texas is an outlier, executing 10 prisoners last year – the most of any state. Texas’ – and the United States’ – continued use of this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment is reprehensible. The U.S. cannot stand for human rights globally if it continues to execute prisoners at home.”
Charles’ attorneys have filed petitions for certiorari review with the Supreme Court, urging the Court to provide his legal team with both the time and resources to establish that the State of Texas’ execution is contrary to the Constitution.
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Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people in over 190 countries who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.