New suit argues Bruce Ward mentally unfit for execution | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New suit argues Bruce Ward mentally unfit for execution

Posted By on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge BRUCE WARD: Attorneys argue he's not mentally competent for execution.
  • BRUCE WARD: Attorneys argue he's not mentally competent for execution.
Lawsuits continue to pile up challenging the eight executions scheduled in April by Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

The latest was filed by federal public defenders in Lincoln County Circuit Court . It argues that Bruce Ward, one of the condemned, has severe mental illness and is incompetent to be executed. Federal case law requires mental competency.

Said a news release on the lawsuit:

William Logan, M.D., a forensic psychiatrist and expert in the diagnosis and treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, has examined Mr. Ward and concluded that he is incompetent to be executed. Dr. Logan’s reporting has documented Mr. Ward’s bizarre and delusional beliefs, including that he is the target of a multi-state conspiracy and that he will not be executed, but will be allowed to walk out of prison to great riches and acclaim, including having a Hollywood movie made about secret information he possesses. Mr. Ward cites direct, personal encounters with God and visions of his deceased father reassuring him he will not be executed.

Mr. Ward’s severe schizophrenia and break with reality render him incompetent for execution under the constitutional standard: he has no rational understanding of the punishment he is about to suffer on April 17 or the reason why he is to suffer it.

The lawsuit argues further that Arkansas gives to the Correction Department director who oversees executions the discretion to determine competency, rather than a court. This is unconstitutional, the lawsuit argues. It says Wendy Kelley, the department director, had made the determination without consulting a medical professional  and that the prison staff had "systematically neglected" Ward's condition.

The lawsuit also contests the conditions of Ward's imprisonment. Again from the release:

In today's filing, attorneys argue that imprisoning Mr. Ward in solitary confinement for nearly three decades has caused their client to mentally deteriorate and constituted torture. Since 1990, Mr. Ward has been locked down for 23 hours per day, alone, in a cell about half the size of a parking space. He is permitted, for one hour per day, to use a dog run-style outdoor area of about the same size, also without human contact. Dr. Craig Haney, an expert on the psychological effects of prison conditions, has provided his expert opinion that Arkansas’s Supermax causes significant psychological damage to prisoners and is even more damaging for prisoners with pre-existing mental illness, like Mr. Ward. In addition to housing Mr. Ward in complete and utter isolation, the Department of Correction refused to offer him any mental health care, adhering to a policy of withholding mental health services for Mr. Ward (and other mentally ill prisoners), causing his condition to seriously worsen over the decades. 
Ward was convicted of the 1989 slaying of Rebecca Doss, 18, a convenience store clerk working on overnight shift. A passing police officer who could not see a clerk inside stopped to check the store and stopped Ward after seeing him walk away from restrooms.

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016
  • The two cities of Little Rock: East/west, black/white

    The Little Rock City Board illustrated this week a community divided over public schools, another blow to the Little Rock School District and another illustration of the need for ward elections to the board.
    • Mar 23, 2017
  • Judge Griffen: Why black lives matter

    Another few words from Judge Wendell Griffen growing from the controversy over the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the state black history museum — removed by the administration and restored after protests from Griffen and others stirred by a story in the Arkansas Times:
    • Mar 13, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Saturday open line

    • Had dinner in the River Market tonight. Drove past the state Capitol on the way…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Saturday open line

    • Wannabe, the thing about criticism of people who served, were captured, survived, shouldn't be done…

    • on July 22, 2017
  • Re: Saturday open line

    • I'm thinking of writing a book myself. "The Art of Using the Urinal by the…

    • on July 22, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation