Breaking: Arkansas Supreme Court Just Halted Execution of a Severely Mentally Ill Man

“He should receive an independent hearing about his competency.”

KTHV/AP

In a 5-2 decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court has stopped the scheduled execution of Jack Greene, a severely mentally ill death row inmate. Greene was scheduled to be put to death on Thursday. 

“Today’s order means that our client, Jack Greene, will have the opportunity to make the case that he should receive an independent hearing about his competency for execution,” Scott Braden, an attorney for Green said in a statement on Tuesday.

Greene’s lawyers argued their client was too mentally ill to be executed, but the state’s top prison official determined that he was competent. Greene’s lawyers then asked the state’s Supreme Court for a stay of execution so justices could review a lower court’s dismissal of his challenge to the law that gives the top prison official this kind of authority. Today, the Supreme Court halted the execution in order to further review this challenge. 

Greene was convicted of the murder of Sidney Burnett in 1991. His attorneys say he suffers from psychotic delusions and should be “exactly the kind of person our laws prohibit from execution.” As Mother Jones previously reported: 

In solitary confinement since 2003, Greene’s mental state has deteriorated over his last two decades behind bars. According to his clemency petition, Greene is routinely found with blood smeared on his face, and he stuffs his ears and nose with toilet paper. He eats out of his sink and uses his toilet as a desk. Greene is convinced that prison officials are conspiring to make him sick and have inflicted damage on his central nervous system. Medical tests have found no evidence of these injuries and concluded his accusations are a result of his delusional thinking. 

Prison medical staff have described him as mentally unstable and in a letter to Republican Gov. Asa Huthinson, 28 doctors wrote that executing Greene would be “morally and ethically” wrong.