Mental Health and the Death Penalty
Table of contents
While international law provides that mentally ill and intellectually disabled individuals may not be subjected to the death penalty, most countries lack effective procedures to identify individuals with mental disorders. In addition, most countries have failed to put into place legislation to ensure that mentally ill or intellectually impaired prisoners are protected from capital punishment. As a result, mentally ill and intellectually disabled people continue to be sentenced to death and executed around the world.
We aim to ensure that intellectually disabled and mentally ill individuals receive the protection to which they are entitled under international law. To further this goal, we train lawyers, judges, and mental health professionals on the relevance of mental health to criminal behavior, focusing on trauma, traumatic brain injury, childhood illness, exposure to violence, substance abuse, intellectual disability, and psychosis. We also promote law reform, judicial precedent, and policy developments to provide humane treatment for offenders with mental illnesses or intellectual disabilities.
Media & Publications
Barbara Esuoso, Cornell Law School launches death penalty center, Cornell Chronicle, Cornell University, October 27, 2016.
Cornell Law School, Cornell Law School Launches Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide, October 25, 2016.