ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Neetika VishwanathSubscribe to Neetika Vishwanath

Mental Illness, Sentencing and the Death Penalty

A close look at the commutation of a death sentence to life imprisonment on the grounds of post-conviction mental illness yields a few legal observations on the reasoning for commutation. What makes post-conviction onset of mental illness a factor for commutation is not that the person is no more culpable, but that the mental illness in prison in addition to punishment is “punishment plus.”

The Supreme Court’s Death Penalty Focus

In end-2018, the Supreme Court commuted the death penalty in 11 cases to life imprisonment and also clarified the mitigating individual factors. Nonetheless, there are procedural and normative questions that need resolution. The lack of coherence in explaining the significance, meaning, and character of the concept of mitigating factors in sentencing exercises leaves room for subsequent judgments to easily disregard them.
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