Execution of mentally ill woman in USA

My wife and I were upset to hear of the latest Trump led atrocity this morning.
The report doesn’t cover her abuse or mental health in any detail. I have read this elsewhere and it is truly shocking that this woman wasn’t sent to a mental health institution.


The existence of two United States of America has become more pronounced than ever during the presidency of Donald Trump. I very much doubt that this woman would have been subject to the death penalty if she had been in a jurisdiction north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

There were many of these to be seen in the rioting in DC

I am very pro law and order and a supporter of the police ( no you all cry) but even I disagree with capital punishment

This is a very emotive subject and I sit on the fence a little re capital punishment. Craig Bentley is a good example of why it is wrong, as is this poor women in the US (clearly had mental health issues probably brought on following her abuse) but then when terrorists are killing hundreds of people around the world, should they be put in prison (later released) and be given the opportunity to act again.

Regardless of the charge there is always the chance of a mistake. I think anyone convicted of terrorist crimes worthy of execution wouldn’t be released back into society for a very long time had they been imprisoned.

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There are terrorists who are released after only a few years (without proper de-radicalisation programmes) who have been connected to ISIS etc. How many people have they been involved in killing? It is only the high profile cases who would receive ‘a very long time’ in prison (probably a true life sentence one would hope). This then leads to another subject re keeping them alive in our prisons (already over full) and other offenders then not receiving long enough sentences as they can’t be housed.

I don’t think that one can justify condemning a person to death for killing people since by executing them one is doing exactly what one condemned them for. Society can’t be complicit in judicial murder and also punish it.

Otherwise fine go ahead execute all and sundry and save lots of money, but don’t say it is for ethical reasons.


Correct in every detail. I don’t see what being a woman or mentally ill has anything to do with it, killing people for whatever reason is always wrong.

In any case, if I committed a murder I would prefer the death penalty rather than whole life, or any long, imprisonment. I can’t think of anything worse than being locked up for ever.

Yes, she had a horrendous childhood. I’ve always held very firm views on capital punishment and I don’t think there’s place for judicial murder in a civilised society. I’m sure if one of my loved ones was murdered I’d want retribution but I’m not sure I could live with myself if that was execution. I’m not sure sentencing today does reflect gravity of the crime but as David says, life without parole is probably a worse punishment than a quick death. Plus, should there be a miscarriage of justice it can be rectified.


I saw a clip of ‘Question Time’. Ian Hislop made the point that some of those convicted of IRA atrocities had been exonerated, years later. He was replying to Priti Patel, who had been making the case for terrorists who had committed atrocities such as the Birmingham pub bombings and the Guildford bombings to be subject to the death penalty.

Responding to Hislop she said, “But there is always the opportunity for judicial review” .Hislop, “No there wouldn’t! Long before that they’d be dead!”

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The Birmingham six and the Guilford four are the best possible examples of why the death penalty is wrong. I seem to remember at the time of the appeals etc. one lunatic judge stated that had they been executed all the fuss could have been avoided.

Gillian’s example of Derek Bentley is another excellent example as is Timothy Evans, because they show how people with intellectual difficulties are at a significant disadvantage in the judicial system.


I had a portrait to shoot of a retired judge who had spent years ‘administering justice’ to somewhere S.E. Asia - Borneo or similar, in the days when Britain ruled these place. It was chilling to hear him describing, in the most casual, off-hand way, handing down death sentences on a regular basis to the ‘natives’.

I also had to do photographs of the legs of two of my boss’s wife’s relatives, for compensation claims. My boss simply could not face doing them. [When we did a shot for The Blood Donor Service, with a bag of real blood, he managed to hold out till the shot was done before heading to the loo to be sick. A bit nesh, my old boss]

These two Chinese women had never been in a British pub, despite many years living in London. They decided to go to The Swiss Cottage Tavern on Christmas Eve. The IRA planted a bomb which blasted most of the flesh off their legs below the knees.

But still - no judicial murder.

There are still folk in the Sinn Fein party that won’t condemn the actions of the “Army”. For them blowing up women and children was all part of the “armed struggle”. These people still cause fear in the populace North of the border and many would say that Sinn Fein is still run by dangerous men in a smoke filled room in Belfast. The’s why Johnson’t cavalier attitude to the GFA was so worrying.

The big problem is that young people, too young to remember what was done, are now being suckered into voting for SF. IMO at current course and speed it is more likely than not that SF will end up in power north and south of the border eventually.

The demographics have long been indicating that outcome. The same process at the other end of the age range will see those who connect with “the Army” and all its doings will be gone.

If there is a democratic process that results in the unification of Ireland’s two polities, as long as the Catholic majority do not turn on the Ulster Protestants in belated revenge, the island of Ireland will have turned the last page, closed the book.

Since the Irish Catholic Church got its well deserved clobbering (another chapter this week) I don’t think there’s any risk of “revenge”. Nobody under thirty (and possibly old as fifty) regards the Church with respect anymore.

Let us not forget the nature of the crime that the executed woman committed.
There are some crimes that are so heinous in nature that the maintenance of the very structure of society requires a severe punishment.
Where there is absolutely no doubt as to guilt, and where the crime itself is of such a nature that a person needs a very strong constitution to be able to discuss it in any detail, then the death penalty is appropriate for the maintenance of good order in society in my view.
Would I back up my view with action ? Well yes, in all honesty I have to say that I would happily have pulled the handle to hang Ian Brady and Myra Hindley for example.
Offenders such as these can easily be classified as mentally ill, not least because of what they did being such that society feels that no sane person would ever have contemplated such a thing. There is another classification that is also appropriate for such offenders, and it is that of being just plain evil through and through.

Can we then say that there comes a point in the nature of the crime where mentally ill people found guilty must be executed to ‘maintain’ the structure of society? Is this about justice or vengeance?
Quote ‘Where there is absolutely no doubt as to guilt’ - well history shows us that it is impossible to guarantee that all covictions are safe.
Quote ‘maintenance of good order in society in my view’ - I and fortunately most people in civilised western societies do not have this opinion. I find the statement deeply unsettling and would hate to live in such a society.
Some of the gruesome details of this damaged woman’s early life -

Over the last year probably most of us have thought about death more than we usually do.

Attitudes to life and death change and of course we all think the attitude of our day and age and culture is the only right way to look at it. Historically people were executed for their political beliefs, for falling out of favour with the king, for quite minor things. It was accepted. People in high places sailed close to the wind and aimed to avoid execution but if their luck ran out, they shrugged and prepared to die.

Many millions of soldiers have been killed by other soldiers because the rulers of their countries could not find a compromise and settle their differences, and that has not stopped yet. Terrorists value their ideals higher than human life.

Fit and healthy sportsmen and women die striving for excellence.

People die prematurely in accidents and from disease. People make the choice to end their own lives. Some of these people had made and could have continued to make huge contributions to the world had they not died when they did.

I am not taking sides in the capital punishment debate but I am afraid I cannot break my heart over the death of one poor unfortunate woman who if we are honest was not a prime example of a human being and had as far as I know done very little good in the world, when so many good people are being buried. I am afraid I do not altogether subscribe to the belief that every human life is equal. Potentially yes but in fact no, some people add value to their lives and some do not. In theory I have more sympathy with the view that only God should give life and only God should take it away. I do not think scientists should give life or modify life. I do not go along with going to any length to preserve human life beyond its natural span. Yet I kill flies. I have contradictory feelings about all of this. I have more questions than answers. The only philosophy I have is that quality of life is what matters. A person may not be able to control how long their life is but they can at least strive to be a good person and do good things while they are alive. But, some people of course cannot, like this unfortunate lady, and that is where my philosophy falls over.

I expect members of this forum will ridicule what I have said. Be charitable and put it down to an old man’s ramblings.

You fail to see the point.
It is not just one poor mentally ill woman, it could and has been all those mentally ill people already executed and those to come.
Also all those who, in the USA, commit capital crimes as children and are then executed as adults.

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What does that mean exactly Geoffrey ? Do you not believe in hospital treatment ? Do you believe in genetic research to help prevent hereditary diseases etc ?