Executing the Vulnerable Among Us: An Analysis of Mental Capacity, Mental Illness and the Death Penalty in North Carolina
A Thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of North Carolina in partial fulfillment of the requirements of a degree with Honors in Political Science.
Table of Contents
Introduction Chapter 1: Historical Overview of Capital Punishment in North Carolina Chapter 2: Medically and Legally Defining Mental Retardation and Mental Illness Chapter 3: Chronicling Capital Punishment in North Carolina, The News and Observer Chapter 4: Methods and Coding Chapter 5: I. Targeting of the Death Penalty II. Parallel Stories: Mental Retardation and Severe Mental Illness
Conclusion References Appendix 1: Mental Capacity Appendix 2: Mental Illness Appendix 3: Selected Full Articles
Capital punishment as an institution in the United States has evolved substantially over the past century. The trend throughout history has been one of increased limitation in the application of the death penalty. There have been significant limitations placed on exactly who the state can kill. In the past a plethora of crimes were punishable by death, but the changing standards of capital punishment have eliminated all but those who commit murders from execution1. One of the most recent and significant changes in the application of the death penalty in the United States is the Supreme Court Atkins v. Virginia (2002) ruling that the execution of the mentally retarded as unconstitutional. Citing ―evolving standards of decency‖ the Supreme Court looked towards the movement within the states to prevent the execution of the mentally retarded in its decision to further limit the application of the death penalty. Notably, North Carolina banned the
execution of the mentally retarded in 2001, before the...