Executing someone who is deemed, “insane” – that is, someone who does not understand the reality or reason for his or her punishment – violates the U.S. Constitution as laid out in the case of Ford v. Wainwright, 1986. The Ford decision gives each state the authority and ability to the determine sanity. Constitutional protections for people with various forms of mental illness that are not classified as insanity, are minimal and inmates have been executed despite suffering from severe mental illness. According to Amnesty International, The National Association of Mental Health has estimated that five to ten percent of those on death row have serious mental illness.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, opposes the execution of persons with serious mental illness or those who are mentally disabled.