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Harvard Study Finds Most State Death Row Inmates Have Serious Impairments

Aug 30, 2017

Ohio has scheduled more executions set than any other state.

A new report from Harvard Law School shows most of those death row inmates have serious mental and intellectual impairments. The report suggests that could pose a constitutional problem. Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler explains.

Of the 26 Ohio men set to be executed in the next three years, a review by Harvard Law’s Fair Punishment Project shows almost two thirds suffered serious childhood trauma. Nearly a quarter are likely severely mentally ill and 42% have other impairments such as brain injuries. And the group’s Jessica Brand says often, their lawyers didn’t investigate these issues to present them at trial.
 
“It’s just this horrible trifecta of things where you have people who are the most impaired received some poor representation at some time in their cases and then are facing the most severe penalty possible.”
 
Brand says while findings in other states are similar, this could run afoul of the Eighth Amendment, which limits the death penalty to the most morally reprehensible people.