Murder for Murder in Uncivilized System of Injustice. From [DPIC] and [Jurist] The US Supreme Court unanimously concluded [decision, PDF] on Monday that Alabama may execute a death row inmate, Vernon Madison, who claims to be mentally incompetent and unfit to be executed under the Eighth Amendment [text] due to several strokes and vascular dementia.
In April 1985 in Mobile, Alabama, Madison shot [Reuters report] Julius Schulte, a police officer, twice in the back of the head at close range. Madison's attorneys claim that several recent strokes have impaired his memory and that he no longer remembers his 32-year-old crime.
Defense lawyers say Madison, whom a trial judge sentenced to death despite the jury's recommendation of a life sentence, suffers from mental illness and has additional cognitive impairments, retrograde amnesia, and dementia as a result of strokes in May 2015 and January 2016. The strokes also have caused a significant drop in Madison's IQ, which now tests at 72, within the range the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized as supporting a diagnosis of intellectual disability. In addition, the strokes have left Madison legally blind, he cannot walk on his own and speaks with a slur.
In its 1986 decision in Ford v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional for states to execute mentally incompetent prisoners, whom it defined as people who do not understand their punishment or why they are to be executed. [MORE] [whitenology rule applied; if you're Black and you murder a white cop then your chances to be murdered by the state go up 100% -blue lives matter more]
In concluding that Alabama may move forward with the execution, the majority explained that the court's precedent has not
"'clearly established' that a prisoner is incompetent to be executed because of a failure to remember his commission of the crime, as distinct from a failure to rationally comprehend the concepts of crime and punishment as applied in his case. The state court did not unreasonably apply [Supreme Court precedents] when it determined that Madison is competent to be executed because—notwithstanding his memory loss—he recognizes that he will be put to death as punishment for the murder he was found to have committed."
The justices added that they "express no view on the merits of the underlying question."
In his separate concurring opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer highlighted the issue of the "unconscionably long periods of time that prisoners often spend on death row awaiting execution." Breyer argued the average time spent on death row is continually increasing, and he urged the court to "consider the ways in which lengthy periods of imprisonment between death sentence and execution can deepen the cruelty of the death penalty while at the same time undermining its penological rationale."
Madison was sentenced to death in 1994 in his third trial after his first two convictions were thrown out on appeal for racial discrimination in jury selection and other prosecutorial misconduct.