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.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.