An execution in Indonesia had led to the withdrawal of ambassadors after an international outcry over the treatment of Marco Archer Cardoso Moreira, a Brazilian man who was a paranoid schizophrenic accused of drug dealing. Moreira was reportedly dragged from this cell and denied last rites with a priest. He soiled himself and was quickly hosed down before being thrown in front of a firing squad.
Cilacap priest Father Charles Burrows said that he desperately tried to see Moreira to offer him the comfort of last rites but was denied. The prison says that it was a mix up.
Moreira was executed on January 18th, He was shot by firing squad on Nusakambangan, Indonesia’s execution island. The final moments were described as horrific as he wept and begged for last rites.
Brazil insisted that as a paranoid schizophrenic, Moreira should have been spared. Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff responded to the execution by delaying the acceptance of credentials for Indonesia’s representative.
By the way, while we do not execute people for drug dealing, being a paranoid schizophrenic would not necessarily stop an execution in the United States so long as the person has sufficient mental clarity to understand that they are being executed. Two years ago, the Supreme Court allowed a schizophrenic man to be executed in Florida over international objections. The standard in the U.S. was set in a case involving a paranoid schizophrenic. In Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), the Supreme Court upheld that states must give competency evaluations to guarantee that the insane are not executed. Alvin Bernard Ford was convicted of murder in 1974 and his mental health deteriorated in prison. He began referring to himself as Pope John Paul III and engaging in delusional conduct. In the later case, Justice Thurgood Marshall ruled that under the Eighth Amendment and standards consistent with “the progress of a maturing society,” there are limits on states in the execution of the mentally ill. The Court held that independent evaluations would be required with procedural protections. Ford was reevaluated and found to be incompetent to be executed.
The Court later ruled in Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002), that executing intellectually disabled individuals may also violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments, but left it to states to define what constitutes mental retardation or intellectual disability. Then last year in Hall v. Florida the Court held that a bright-line IQ threshold requirement for determining whether someone has an intellectual disability (formerly mental retardation) is unconstitutional in deciding whether they are eligible for the death penalty. The Court ruled that states must look beyond a simple IQ test to make such judgments.