Much of the American public may believe that the mentally ill are spared capital punishment in this country, because to execute someone suffering from mental illness would be cruel and unusual – and therefore, in violation of our federal constitution.
And they’re wrong. Dead wrong.
Washington State plans to execute Cal Coburn Brown tomorrow, a man acknowledged to suffer from bipolar disorder.
The governor has denied a clemency request already, tipping her hat to the jury who had the opportunity to consider mental illness during the sentencing phase of Mr. Brown’s trial.
This morning, the United States Supreme Court rejected Cal Coburn Brown’s appeal without explanation. Right now, he has one remaining appeal that is pending, unless the lawyers file something else very, very soon.
Brown Will Be First in Washington Executed By Single Drug Lethal Injection Method
If Mr. Brown is killed by the State of Washington tomorrow, then he’ll be the first person executed in Washington since 2001. Cal Brown will also be the first Washington Death Row inmate to die by the single-drug lethal injection method, as Washington has joined with Ohio in implementing this new form of execution (over the three-drug cocktail method).
If you’ll remember, it was just last December that Ohio used the single-drug execution method in an execution, when Ohio inmate Kenneth Biros was executed on December 8, 2009. This single-drug execution method, where a massive dose of one drug is injected, is just the same as the methods used by vets across the country in the euthanasia of dogs and cats. Surely this analogy suggests how wrong this method is for anyone, much less someone suffering from mental illness.
Cal Coburn Brown is mentally ill: he has been medicated for bipolar disorder for 16 years.
It is not disputed that Mr. Brown suffers from bipolar disorder, nor is it disputed that he confessed to killing Holly Washa in 1991. Cal Brown was mentally ill then and now. However, since 1994, Mr. Brown has been on medication for his condition.
His suffering of bipolar disorder, so far, has not prevented Cal Coburn Brown from being convicted of capital murder and being sentenced to death for his crime. Unless something happens fast, a mentally ill man will be executed tomorrow by the State of Washington.
What is bipolar disorder?
According to the National Association for the Mentally Ill:
Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. These changes may be subtle or dramatic and typically vary greatly over the course of a person’s life as well as among individuals. Over 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder, and the illness affects men and women equally. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and occasionally even in children. Most people generally require some sort of lifelong treatment. While medication is one key element in successful treatment of bipolar disorder, psychotherapy, support, and education about the illness are also essential components of the treatment process.