Submission by Lori Graves
With all the talk about the death penalty being reinstated in Iowa I decided to delve a little deeper into the subject and what I discovered was disturbing. I came upon an article about people with mental illness being given the death penalty. One man’s case stood out to me above all the others.
In the article “How Crazy Is Too Crazy to Be Executed” we are introduced to Andre Thomas who has a long family history of mental illness, alcoholism, and trauma, has attempted suicide several times and suffers from auditory hallucinations. In March of 2004, after receiving a message from God, he murdered his estranged wife “Jezebel”, their 4-year old son “the antichrist”, and her “just plain evil”13-month old daughter. He removed the children’s hearts, and a piece of his wife’s lung that he mistook for her heart, put them in his pocket, and went home and stabbed himself three times in the chest. He later said that he had taken the hearts to “free them from evil” and that they “weren’t really dead”. While awaiting trial he took a bible passage literally and gouged out his own eyes in two separate incidents, consuming the eye after the second. Despite everything that had transpired, and a diagnosis of schizophrenia, he was deemed competent to stand trial and was ultimately given the death penalty.
Proponents of rule utilitarianism believe that “everyone should always establish and follow that rule or those rules that will bring about the greatest good for all concerned.” (Thiroux 26), and for the most part I agree with that theory; however, I also believe that there are often situations where there needs to be alternatives to the usual rules and consequences in place. I feel that in this case the authorities should have found a better alternative for this situation. I believe that the death penalty should be an option for people who commit heinous crimes, but I also think that there should be other recourses in place for those people that have a long-documented history of mental illness.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, 14 years later, Andre Thomas is still awaiting execution in Texas.