Update on Jack Greene

Greene, whose impending Nov. 9 execution I condemned in my previous post, is likely suffering from one of serious mental illness’s most insidious and common “companion” affflictions, anosognosia. (The term is Greek for lack of insight, and is explained here: http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/key-issues/anosognosia.) I have seen anosognosia at work in both my schizophrenic sons, and can attest that its victims can make very convincing cases that they are “normal”–because that is what they believe. Greene appears to be another example.

The violent mentally ill comprise a small percentage of those afflicted. Yet they are among the most feared and despised of society’s scourges, and many people mistakenly equate schizophrenia with homicidal tendencies. http://depts.washington.edu/mhreport/facts_violence.php Very often, they have descended into a violent state because their brain disease has gone unmedicated, and thus worsened over time.

The Arkansas prison administrators who may soon exercise their power to kill Jack Greene appear to be equally clueless about the general nature of brain diseases such as Greene’s. They are physical genetic flaws that cannot be cured. Their effects can be modified by proper medication. Untreated, their victims lose all power to understand reality or control their actions.

If the November 9 execution goes forward, Jack Greene will die, but the real culprit–the disease that destroyed his reason–will live on, doing unspeakable human damage. It will continue to operate under the cloud of ignorance that still obscures justice for the mentally ill.

Take Action

Please watch the video below to learn more about Mr. Greene and share his story with friends.

Click here to sign the petition to grant mercy to Jack Greene initiated by the Arkansas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Arkansas poised to execute man amid fight over mental health
His lawyers want doctors to have a greater say in determining his mental competency.
In this on Oct. 4, 2017, frame grab from video, Arkansas death row inmate Jack Greene appears before the state parole board at a prison in Varner, Ark. Greene is scheduled to die Nov. 9, 2017, but his lawyers are arguing that he is severely mentally
In this on Oct. 4, 2017, frame grab from video, Arkansas death row inmate Jack Greene appears before the state parole board at a prison in Varner, Ark. Greene is scheduled to die Nov. 9, 2017, but his lawyers are arguing that he is severely mentally

via ABC News

Jack Greene’s lawyers say he’s severely mentally ill. The Arkansas death row inmate says they’re lying.

As Greene approaches a Nov. 9 execution date, his lawyers are raising questions about who should determine his mental competency. Arkansas gives considerable weight to its prison director’s opinion in deciding whether a condemned inmate has the mental capacity to understand his execution; Greene’s lawyers want doctors to have a greater say.

“The system is really quite antiquated,” John Williams, an attorney for Greene, said in an interview. “(Prison director) Wendy Kelley is an arm of the state. She doesn’t have the expertise to make that determination.”

Greene was convicted for the 1991 killing Sidney Jethro Burnett after Burnett and his wife accused Greene of arson. At least one court this week will take up Greene’s case.

The inmate hasn’t always made it easy for his attorneys. While pleading for clemency, he told the Arkansas Parole Board this month that his lawyers are wrong to call him “delusional” and that courts have routinely found him competent. He also told the board, “I knew what I was doing to him,” when he tortured Burnett for an hour before shooting him. When a doctor testified that Greene has done headstands during examinations and even in courtrooms, Greene told the panel that he does yoga to remain “functional.”

Williams says the seemingly lucid moments mask severe mental illness.

“A lot of people who are mentally ill don’t think they’re mentally ill,” the lawyer said.

The case has drawn the attention of both the American Bar Association and a collection of 28 mental health professionals, who wrote to Gov. Asa Hutchinson saying it would be “morally and ethically wrong” to execute Greene.

“Mr. Greene’s illness manifests itself in extreme physical contortions, in self-mutilation, and in delusional beliefs he holds about a conspiracy against him between his attorneys and prison officials,” the mental health professionals wrote.

Greene stood throughout his Oct. 4 appearance before the Parole Board, fidgeting and fumbling through documents that, he says, promised him a transfer to his home state North Carolina, where authorities say he killed a brother days before killing Burnett. Bloodied, rolled up strands of tissue stuck out of both ears and his left nostril; his lawyers say that is a symptom of Greene’s mental illness.

“If I could go back to North Carolina and get medical treatment, that would be great, but if not, let’s come on with this execution,” he told the panel.

Williams says Greene believes he’s being executed because he uncovered a purported (and to Greene, successful) conspiracy among guards and lawyers to torture the inmate and dissolve his central nervous system and spinal column.

“He thinks that the Department of Correction cannot send him back to North Carolina because he knows too much about what has happened to him in prison,” Williams said. “They won’t send him back to North Carolina, so they have to execute him.”

Baloney, state lawyers say. North Carolina sent Greene to Arkansas for his murder trial on the condition that he would be returned if he received any sentence other than the death penalty. Greene knows a transfer is a lifeline, Assistant Attorney General Kathryn Henry said.

The governor said Friday that he was still reviewing Greene’s file after Parole Board members recommended that he not spare the inmate’s life.

Greene’s execution would be Arkansas’ first since it put four men to death in an eight-day period in April.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/arkansas-poised-execute-man-amid-fight-mental-health-50794313