Scott Panetti is a severely mentally ill man who has suffered from schizophrenia for more than 30 years. He is scheduled for execution in Texas just weeks from today, on December 3rd. This is the enduring image of Mr. Panetti is from his capital trial, at which he was permitted to represent himself despite his obvious mental illness: dressed in cowboy costume with a purple bandana and attempting to call over 200 witnesses to the stand, including the Pope, Jesus Christ and JFK. Mr. Panetti’s mental illness is extreme by any standard; the infographic below shows his history, which includes over a dozen hospitalizations for mental illness which predate the offense for which he was convicted and sentenced to death. Today, Mr. Panetti’s attorneys filed a clemency petition with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Governor Rick Perry asking them to commute Mr. Panetti’s sentence to life in prison. Dozens of mental health organizations and experts, former prosecutors, evangelicals, the American Bar Association, and others are also expressing support for clemency in the case. (More here.) Additionally, Mr. Panetti’s sister launched a Change.org petition for people to join the call for justice in her brother’s case. Background on the case, including a video, can be found at http://texasdefender.org/scott-panetti/.
- Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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