WASHINGTON, Oct. 25, 2017 — American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass sent a letter Wednesday to Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson to express concern regarding the case of death row inmate Jack Greene, who is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 9.
Hutchinson has a petition for executive clemency for Greene before his office. While the ABA understands that Greene’s guilt in the tragic 1991 murder of retired pastor Sidney Burnett is not in dispute, there is also significant evidence that Greene has a long history of severe mental illness. It is for that reason that the ABA has concerns about whether the death penalty is appropriate in his case.
While the ABA does not oppose or support capital punishment on the merits, it does have an interest in promoting a fair and accurate justice system and ensuring that the death penalty is not imposed on individuals who do not have the highest culpability for the most serious crimes. It is on this principle that the ABA opposes the execution of individuals with severe mental illness present either at the time of their crime or at the time of their execution.
There is ample evidence both that Greene was mentally ill at the time he committed his crime and that his mental state has deteriorated such that he is currently incompetent to be executed. Extensive records show that Greene began exhibiting symptoms of mental illness more than a decade before the crime for which he is on death row. The ABA asks Gov. Hutchinson to give full consideration to these issues before deciding whether to grant or deny Greene’s clemency petition.
Read President Bass’ letter here.
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