Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Social Darwinism of Texas What is it about the mentally ill that the GOP dispises? Last night Rick Perry who took over as Gov'ner of the "great" state of Texas -- just don't drink the water or breathe the air and you will be fine -- allowed the execution of a mentally ill man who was questionably convicted of murder. Now we here at Hegemon would be derelict in our duties if we did not let you, the gentle reader, know that having your defense attorney fall asleep during trial is not sufficient grounds for an appeal of a capital case in the state of Texas. Nor is it enough to bring to light allegations that the prosecutor and defense attorney where... um, you know... very special friends. In fact, the appelate courts in Texas turn down more appeals to overturn a conviction because of legal malfesance than almost any other state in the union. Of course, that is not true if you are a large corporation... but that's the subject of a missive for another day. But if you are mentally ill and convicted of a crime in the state of Texas and can not afford competent legal assistance, say goodbye. A 1986 Supreme Court decision permits the execution of the mentally ill, provided they are able to understand why they are being put to death. A 2002 Supreme Court decision forbade the execution of the mentally retarded. What makes this all the more interesting is that even if the parole board asks for a stay of execution and we can all guess how often that happens in Texas... Ok, I can wait.... But when it does happen, one would think that the Gov'ner would reflect, listen, and maybe give the process a little time to sort out all the issues. Perry, a Republican, let the execution go forward after reviewing a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles that Patterson's sentence be commuted to life imprisonment or that his execution be postponed for at least 120 days for further study. The board voted 5-1 on Monday to recommend clemency or a stay of execution for Patterson. Nope, not in Texas and sadly not elsewhere in the country. So, we have to wonder if this drive to execute the mentally ill is part of some kind of project that the rightwingers are involved in. I mean consider how expensive mental health programs, hospitals, and medicine are for the government. And since the dehospitalization of the 1970s, where do the seriously mentally ill go... to prison. But that is no longer cost effective. What was once a great economic boom for River City have now become a liability. Thus, the only feasible and effective campaign is to eliminate the problem at the source. No matter how schizophrenic someone might be, the cost savings are enormous if you can only find a way to get rid of them. Patterson, of the town of Palestine in East Texas, was diagnosed with schizophrenia, a condition characterized by delusions and sometimes violence, in 1981. He was condemned to death for the 1992 shooting deaths of Louis Oates, 63, and Dorothy Harris, 41, employees of a Palestine oil company. Court papers say that after shooting the pair, Patterson removed all his clothing except his socks and walked away, shouting gibberish. During his trial, Patterson was excluded from the courtroom several times for shouting claims that remote-control devices and implants were governing his behavior. Do we really want to treat someone like Mr. Patterson? No, no that's just too expensive. So, what we see in Texas is a new solution to a growing problem. Way to go Texas! Maybe we can work on those pesky water and air quality control standards next, just like Texas has already done.
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