Thursday, October 8, 2009

Statement from MVFHR and NAMI on World Days

Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
National Alliance on Mental Illness

Statement on World Day Against the Death Penalty
and World Mental Health Day
October 10, 2009

The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty has designated October 10th “World Day
Against the Death Penalty,” and the World Federation for Mental Health has designated
October 10th “World Mental Health Day.” Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
and the National Alliance on Mental Illness have taken the occasion of these two interesting
“World Days” to issue the following statement:

Today is a day of two calls to action: a call to end the death penalty and a call to
make mental health treatment a global priority. As organizations who have
come together to form the “Prevention, Not Execution” project, we bring
these two calls together and declare that it is time to end the death penalty for
people with mental illness.

This past year, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights and the National
Alliance on Mental Illness released a report called Double Tragedies: Victims Speak
Out Against the Death Penalty for People with Severe Mental Illness, giving voice to
families throughout the United States whose lives have been forever changed
by the intersection of murder, mental illness, and the death penalty. Two
months later, Amnesty International issued a report titled Hanging by a thread:
mental health and the death penalty in Japan, highlighting the Japanese government’s
continued executions of mentally ill prisoners.

The death penalty is inappropriate for people with severe mental disorders. On
this day of two intersecting worldwide calls for change, we urge prevention of
violence, through effective and accessible mental health treatment, rather than

Renny Cushing, Executive Director
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights
617 930 5196


melis said...

I disagree 100%!!!! People with severe mental disorders know they have severe mental disorders. 9 times out of 10, they choose to go off of their medications for whatever reasons. Additionally, these people are also extremely conniving. They use their mental illnesses for gain. For instance...a woman is on disability for a mental disorder. The woman tells her children to tell their father they "never want to see him again". The father moves for custody change. Woman begins to state she's not so mentally ill that she can't raise her children properly, but she is so mentally ill that she can't hold a job, and father should provide full support for children. Additionally, these people manipulate the system, they harrass people in general, they can't maintain proper relationships with other adults, and they refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions, and those with children, attempt to make them mentally ill as well. People with mental illnesses (based on my experience) are so highly manipulating and frightening that they are able to garner sympothy for the illnesses so that they can comit crimes with less than the expected consequences. Mentally ill people appear to be quite happy being mentally ill. They can live on disability for it, they can comit reprehensible acts, then use their mental illness as a justification for them, and they can refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions. Only after a mentally ill person comits a crime do they want to acknowledge that they are severely mentally ill, use that mental illness as a defense, and only after that are they seeking treatment in the proper facility, but only IF it's in exchange for prison time. Nope sorry, I've been the victim of people with mental illness far too often, for you to garner any sympothy from me for their little shows. They put on such good shows, that they have the entire NAMI fooled.

Celia Harrison said...

I worked with mentally ill legal offenders when they were in psychiatric hospitals and I have worked in prisons with mentally ill inmates. I then was wrongfully imprisoned, they abruptly stopped my antidepressant and seizure medication, I knew my cat would be starved/tortured, and my property stolen. I lost it and ended up in the mental health unit. I had been a nurse for about 24 years at that point. The conditions were horrendous and the psychologist and psychiatrist did not know what they were doing. There were psychotic patients who needed and wanted medciation and they would not give it to them. They chained people to the floor. They made us beg for toilet paper. We rarely got showers and I observed a nurse treat a black woman in a way that clearly meant she was racist. They even put me in a cell with a violent psychotic woman hoping she would hurt me. I had some psych experience and that saved me. The prisons are full of mentally ill and chemically dependent people who need to be given a life. Some can't live on their own for many reasons and need a more confined place to live, but it does not have to be a hell hole. Some need supervision to take their medications and they do ok. It seems building each one a room to live in and hiring staff to assist them would be cheaper than paying for prisons. Of course I just forgot for a second the whole reason we have so many in the prison system, the prison-industrial complex making money off the misery of others.

Amanda Cooke said...

I do believe that the death penalty is justified in some cases. However, in the case of the mentally ill it is a complete miscarrage of justices. These are people who clearly do not understand the consequences of their actions and should be placed in treatment programs not executed.

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