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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

State of Alabama Plans to Execute Mentally Ill Man

Andrew Lackey is a young man on Alabama's death row who has suffered from mental illness his entire life. The Alabama Supreme Court has ordered him to be executed on July 25 even though no state or federal court has completed appellate review in the case to determine whether his trial was fair or his sentence appropriate.

Alabama prison doctors currently are treating Mr. Lackey with multiple psychotropic medications and his mental illness is longstanding. His mother testified at trial that he "lives in Andrew land," that he does not fully understand "what is really going on," and that there has been "something wrong" with him since he was an infant.

Mr. Lackey was sentenced to death in the tragic killing of Charles Newman in 2005, when Mr. Lackey was 22 years old.

Recently, Mr. Lackey has attempted suicide, saying that his "mind has started to break down," and that he was in an "infinite loop where he sees the end as the beginning." After his failed suicide attempt, Mr. Lackey's suffering led him to ask the State of Alabama to execute him.

Despite the extensive evidence of serious mental illness, however, the trial judge refused to order an expert competency evaluation of Mr. Lackey, failed to inquire about which psychotropic medications he is taking and how they affect his mental state, and did not even ask state officials what mental illness they have diagnosed Mr. Lackey as suffering from.

EJI appealed, arguing that the judge should have properly evaluated Mr. Lackey's competency before permitting him to waive his appeals, but the Court of Criminal Appeals found that it was acceptable to allow him to be executed. Even though no state or federal court has completed appellate review in the case to determine whether the trial was fair or the sentence appropriate, the State of Alabama moved to set an execution date, and the Alabama Supreme Court scheduled Mr. Lackey's execution for July 25, 2013.

Source: Equal Justince Initiative, July 19, 2013

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