Executing People with Serious Mental Illness
The upcoming execution of Duane Owen underscores why Florida desperately needs to pass legislation protecting people with serious mental illness from the death penalty. His story is hard to read, but important to share.
Duane was first diagnosed with schizophrenia over thirty years ago. Experts opined he was insane at the time of the crime. Just two weeks ago, an expert concluded he was incompetent to be executed. Nonetheless, a commission – appointed exclusively by Governor DeSantis – inexplicably found that Duane Owen has no current mental illness and is eligible to be executed. I encourage you to read about Duane’s tragic upbringing and history with serious mental illness on our website.
Sadly, Duane’s pending execution serves as a reminder that Florida has a disturbing history of executing people with serious mental illness. FADP, in conjunction with journalist Alan Johnson, has compiled a booklet of stories shining the light on Florida’s shameful past. Read the first of these tragic stories here.
How can you help? Read, share, and talk about these cases.
If you are a Faith Leader, please sign this letter urging the Governor and Executive Clemency Board to stay the execution.
Please sign this petition for Duane Owen and help us reach 10,000 signatures.
Join our SMI Campaign and find out how we are committed to passing SMI legislation in the 2024 session. Update your contact information and preferences here.
If the execution does proceed, join FADP and allies across the state for vigils and protests around the execution, which is scheduled for June 15 at 6 pm. I will be at Florida State Prison across from the Death Chamber, where we will ring the bell as the state completes its fourth state-sanctioned murder in less than four months.
Every execution is a devastating reminder that Florida is on the wrong side of history. But to repeatedly execute the most ill and the most vulnerable in our society is simply unconscionable. Help us continue to expose this truth about Florida’s fatally flawed death penalty system.