The criminalisation of the mentally ill is one of the cruellest and most easily avoidable tragedies of our era. In the next few days, the state of Arkansas is intending to execute by lethal injection a 60-year-old man called Bruce Ward who showed signs of insanity at the time of his conviction for murder and was diagnosed by a court-recognised psychiatrist in 2006 as being a paranoid schizophrenic.
Ward is one of seven men facing execution in Arkansas after the first death sentence in the state since 2005 was carried out on Thursday. “He appears not to understand that he is about to die, believing instead that he is preparing for a ‘special mission’ as an evangelist,” says a report by the Harvard University Fair Punishment Project. A second man scheduled for execution is Jason McGehee who suffers from bipolar disorder and possible brain damage.