UPCOMING EXECUTIONS: Ohio Set to Execute Inmate with Severe Mental Illness

UPDATE2: Awkal was given a two-week stay by Gov. Kasich to allow time for a mental competency determination. Abdul Awkal (pictured) is scheduled to be executed in Ohio on June 6, despite evidence of his severe mental illness. Awkal lived through 8 years of a civil war in Lebanon, his home country, before escaping to Michigan. He was sentenced to death for murdering his estranged wife and brother-in-law in 1992. There were indications he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. At one point, the prosecution offered him a plea bargain that would have removed the possibility of a death sentence, but Awkal rejected the offer. On two occasions, he was deemed by courts to be too mentally incompetent to assist in his own defense. He was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, depressed type. Awkal also has a history of mental breakdowns, suicidal depression and hallucinations. He believes he advises the CIA on Islamic religion and culture, and claimed he is being executed because the CIA wants him dead. Awkal’s attorneys have asked Ohio Governor John Kasich to grant him clemency. UPDATE: Gov. Kasich denied Awkal’s clemency request on May 30.

The U.S. Supreme Court held in Ford v. Wainwright (1986) that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of a person who is insane and not aware of his execution or the reasons for it. However, people with severe mental illnesses may not fall under that ruling.

(I. Millhiser, “Ohio Set to Execute Severely Mentally Ill Inmate Next Week,” ThinkProgress, May 29, 2012). See Mental Illness and Clemency. Listen to DPIC’s podcast on Mental Illness.