Target: U.S. Supreme Court
Goal: Stop the execution of mentally ill individuals in Florida
The U.S. Constitution forbids the death penalty for individuals who do not understand the concept of it as punishment for a crime. The U.S. Supreme Court has in turn upheld the notion that mentally ill individuals who have delusions cannot receive death as punishment. However, the Florida justice system has denied challenges to the execution of John Errol Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic who has stated that he is the “Prince of God” and whose execution would be his “ascension.” Only the U.S. Supreme Court can halt the imminent execution of a severely mentally disabled inmate and many others in pending cases.
Ferguson suffered a brain injury at the age of 21 and thereafter stayed intermittently in mental hospitals for many years. Doctors warned officials that Ferguson should stay in a mental hospital because he was dangerous and severely mentally ill. He was nonetheless released. In subsequent years, Ferguson murdered several people and was convicted on multiple counts of first-degree murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court has articulated in its rulings that it is inhumane to execute mentally ill convicts. No justice is served by executing an individual who does not understand why he or she has been stripped of the fundamental right to life. However, the state of Florida has put forth a great effort to ensure that Ferguson and other similar convicts be executed despite the standard laid out by the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican Governor Rick Scott recently signed a bill to expedite executions and imposed a time limit for lawyers to prove that their clients are innocent despite the fact that many of those on death row in Florida have been exonerated of their crimes.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Florida Psychiatric Society vehemently counter the state’s claim and have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the planned execution on the premise that the Florida Supreme Court did not meet the U.S. Supreme Court’s burden of proof from Panetti v. Quarterman. The state did no prove that Ferguson—while aware of his punishment—comprehended his fate. The U.S. Supreme Court needs to intervene in Ferguson’s upcoming execution and in pending cases similar to his in order to stop Florida and other states from executing mentally handicapped individuals who cannot comprehend why they are being killed. Please sign this petition and urge the U.S. Supreme Court to live up to its standards and halt the execution of mentally ill individuals not only in Florida but throughout the country.
Dear U.S. Supreme Court,
We urge you to take a stand against the state of Florida and halt the execution of John Errol Ferguson, a severely mentally ill convict set to die very soon. In the case of Panetti v. Quarterman, you ruled that the state must prove that the convict understood his or her punishment and the concept of the death penalty. The state of Florida failed to prove this not only in Ferguson’s case but in other death penalty cases against the mentally ill. Live up to the standards you set and halt these inhumane and unjust executions against individuals who cannot comprehend why their fundamental right to life is being stripped from them.
Ferguson suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of 21 and spent several years in and out of mental hospitals. Despite the admonition from doctors that Ferguson was a threat to his own safety and the safety of others, he was released. In the following years he committed several murders and was quickly convicted and sentenced to death. However, Ferguson is a paranoid and delusional schizophrenic and thus incapable of understand the concept of the death penalty. Please stop the state of Florida and other states throughout the country for executing individuals incapable of understanding their punishment.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mettamomma via Flickr