Editorial Board


Story by Spectator Staff

A Hayward man who tried to subpoena Jesus Christ as a trial witness narrowly avoided execution last Wednesday after his defense attorneys claimed he was too mentally ill for capital punishment.

Scott Panetti was granted reprieve less than eight hours before he was set to receive a lethal injection, according to an article published on abcnews.com. Panetti was diagnosed with schizophrenia 14 years before he fatally shot his estranged wife’s parents in 1992.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said mentally ill people cannot be executed if they don’t have a rational and factual understanding of why they are being punished.

Members of The Spectator Editorial Board agree that mentally ill inmates should be pardoned from execution.

One member said while the pardon is acceptable, this seems like a bizarre case.

“It all seems kind of weird to me,” the same member said.

Another member said the definition of mental illness needs to be discussed. The member said they don’t know when behaviors are stepping over the line.

“How can you gauge? It is something that needs to be very specifically defined,” another member said.

One member said it seems like Panetti could be acting but recognizes Panetti was diagnosed with schizophrenia 14 years before he killed his in-laws.

The same member said the gap between Panetti’s diagnosis and the shooting shows the failure of caring for mentally ill.

Another member said they wondered how Panetti got to the point of execution if the law has always held that mentally ill inmates are not executed.

“How did he get there in the first place?” the member said. “Why was he pulled at the last minute?”

The decisions leading up to the day of the execution also puzzled another member. The next step also concerned the member. They said Panetti is likely a threat to society, but sticking him in a cell in isolation is not right. The member said support and help should be offered to Panetti if he is seriously ill.

 The staff editorial reflects the majority opinion of the Editorial Board and is written by the Op/Ed Editor. Columns, cartoons and letters are the opinion of the author/artist and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Spectator as a whole.