Monday, November 12, 2007

"60 Minutes" Segment on Mentally Ill Inmate in Tennessee

Last night, the CBS News program "60 Minutes" featured an interview with Gregory Thompson, a severely mentally ill man who has been on death row in Tennessee for more than 20 years. His lawyers did not raise evidence of his mental illness during his trial. Thompson had an execution date in 2006, but a federal appeals court ruled that a lower court should examine evidence that Thompson was mentally ill at the time of the crime. Later, the Supreme Court narrowly overruled the decision, saying it was too late to raise that issue.

According to CBS, "Thompson's lawyers are going back to federal court this month and hope to get a ruling that Thompson -- despite his medication -- is mentally incompetent and should not be executed. The Tennessee attorney general, who declined 60 Minutes' request for an interview, is expected to argue that Thompson understands why he is being punished, is not insane and,therefore, should be executed."

Here's more from CBS News:

"Thompson voluntarily takes a cocktail of 10 pills daily, plus two injections a month, and says he would "go lulu" without them. Episodes off the medications include attempting to kill guards he says appeared to be insects and aliens. But even on the medicine, he is delusional, says one of his lawyers, Dana Chavis. '[Medicine] doesn't take away his mental illness. He's always insane... but it hides that insanity,' says Chavis.

[Reporter Laura] Logan spoke with him in prison while he was on his medication, asking him if he's aware the medication increases his chances of being executed. "I made a choice years ago that if I were to get to that point, I'd rather be normal than insane," he says, "because it hurts. I'm tired of being mentally ill if they want to kill me at the end, then they kill me at the end." Asked what would happen if he is executed, Thompson replies, "Well, I know that the dead can speak."
When asked if he would die, Thompson says, "I think it would be a horrible ending, because if the dead can speak ... you got thoughts going on in the grave. I don't know about that," he tells Logan.

Thompson also claims he received a check for $444,000 for writing songs for country western stars and gave it to his victim's family."

Video footage is available at:

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