Press Releases

NAMI's Response to U.S. Supreme Court Decision Allowing Execution of John Ferguson; Mental Illness Ignored

Aug 05 2013

ARLINGTON, Va., Aug. 5, 2013 -- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) issued the following statement by Ron Honberg, national director of policy and legal affairs, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to reject an appeal and an emergency stay in the case of John Ferguson—who was executed by the State of Florida on Monday, Aug. 5 at 6:17 p.m. ET.

"NAMI is very disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision. It let stand what we consider to be a violation of constitutional law. The tragedies of John Ferguson's original crimes are compounded now by an additional tragedy –one in which the legal system failed to recognize established medical understanding of serious mental illness.

"While we do not in any way excuse Ferguson's crimes, executing him ignores the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against executing individuals who are too ill to rationally comprehend the reason for their execution." 

Last week, NAMI filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the Florida Supreme Court had applied an outdated, unconstitutional standard in reviewing Ferguson's sentence. At that time, Honberg stated that life without parole would be a more appropriate sentence.

See also:

The Ferguson Case: When the Law Hasn't Kept Up With Science 
The Crime Report, Aug. 5, 2013

NAMI Report:  Double Tragedies; Families of Victims Speak Out Against the Death Penalty for People with Severe Mental Illness (2009).

About NAMI

NAMI is the nation's largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope.