NAMI Praises Justice Department's Humane Decision In Kaczynski Case

Urges Every Court To Follow Justice Department's Lead When Deciding Cases Involving Severe Mental Illnesses 

Statement By Laurie M. Flynn, Executive Director National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Jan 22 1998

NAMI praises the U.S. Department of Justice for agreeing to a plea arrangement in the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski. While we deplore the tragic and senseless deaths and injuries he inflicted, the imposition of a death penalty on a person whose crimes were the direct result of an untreated mental illness would have been morally wrong and a miscarriage of justice.

Mr. Kaczynski suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, a serious brain disorder which typically is characterized by paranoid delusions and severely impaired insight. His lifetime sentence to a secure, locked facility where he can perpetrate no further harm to society is just. We hope that Mr. Kaczynski receives treatment for his illness, including appropriate medications during his lifetime of incarceration.

The case of Theodore Kaczynski should serve as an example for all courts deciding the fate of persons with severe mental illnesses. While people must be held responsible for their actions, the death penalty is never appropriate for a defendant suffering from schizophrenia or other serious brain disorders.

With more than 168,000 members, NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. NAMI has more than 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.