Harvard Law Report: Arkansas Ignoring Mental State Of Death Row Inmates, Poor Lawyering

Mar 30, 2017

A report released on Thursday by one of the nation’s top law schools concludes the state of Arkansas has ignored the mental states and legal representation of eight death row inmates scheduled to die next month. It’s the latest wrinkle in the state’s drive to kill eight inmates in 10 days.

Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project claims five of the eight men suffer from either a serious mental illness or intellectual impairment. One death row inmates has an IQ of 70 after suffering a head injury. Another is a paranoid schizophrenic who says he sees his dead father around the prison as well as dogs. The report from Harvard Law notes the U.S. Supreme court has ruled it a violation of the Eight Amendment to execute people with intellectual disabilities.

The report also argues that the “quality of lawyering” for all eight men, at least at times, “falls short of any responsible standard.” A summary notes one lawyer was drunk in court while other repeatedly missed deadlines or didn’t visit clients.

Clemency hearings are ongoing and a number of lawsuits are trickling in. The first of four, double-executions is scheduled for April 17th.