Diagnosing and Treating 'Insanity' on Death Row: Legal and Ethical Perspectives

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Publication Date

Spring 1987


In every American state with a death penalty law, execution of the insane is forbidden by statute or case law. Recently, the United States Supreme Court held that this proscription is mandated by the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause of the Eighth Amendment. As a result of these laws and the Supreme Court's recent ruling, psychiatrists and psychologists have been and will continue to be called upon to both diagnose and treat insanity among death row inmates. This article considers whether psychiatrists and psychologists can meet both these legal demands and the ethical demands of the healing professions to which they belong.

Publication Title

Behavioral Science and the Law

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