Death Penalty, Provenzano and Mental Illness
by Scott Talan

Thursday, June 22nd 2000


It took 16 years to execute Thomas Provenzano. But it took only minutes for him to kill two Orange County deputies and wound a third. Death penalty opponents sing at a capitol vigil Thursday. Remembering both the executed--and his victims.
Provenzano's attorney says he was mentally ill. "Mr. Provenzano truly believed that he was Jesus Christ," said Provenzano Attorney Mary Kane.
That's why Provenzano believed he was being executed say his defenders. "The world hates Jesus...he was Jesus...that's why he was being executed," commented Walter Moore with the Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Governor Bush declined to delay Provenzano's sentence. Bush believed he was legally fit for execution. "All of these courts in all these years of proceedings have determined that Thomas Provenzano was competent to be executed," explained Governor Bush's Press Secretary Elizabeth Hirst.
Psychiatrists say somebody can be mentally ill and know the reality of the crime their committing and know why they're being executed. Psychiatrist Dennis Platt has examined death row prisoners. "They may think they are being punished for any number of reasons none of which apply to the case," said Platt.
But those same mentally ill people can also be in touch with reality...even if they're delusional and think they're somebody else. "Yet if they knew exactly what they were doing then I think they are very responsible and should be held responsible," added Platt.
Provenzano has now been held accountable for his actions....but the debate over whether he really knew why he was being executed continues. Provenzano was the forty eighth person executed since Florida restored the death penalty in 1976.


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