This is an Alert! Best viewed at 800 x 600 pixels with MS® Explorer.
ALERT - HELP NEEDED!
-- Updated April 9, 2002 --

Mr. Abdur'Rahman (and Civilization) Need Your Help!

    Below is a true and correct copy of an E-mail received by Dr. Sterling from the National Mental Health Association urging all of us who are concerned about the civilized treatment of the severely mentally ill to write to the Governor of Tennessee and the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole.

      JUSTICE ALERT

      Offender with Serious Mental Illness Faces Execution

      Background

      The National Mental Health Association (NMHA) is working to prevent the execution of a man who suffers from serious mental illness. Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman is scheduled to face execution in Tennessee on April 10, 2002. NMHA believes that mental illness should always be taken into account during all phases of a death penalty case.

      Critical evidence regarding Abdur'Rahman's mental illness and history of abuse were not raised at his trial, and the presiding judge later called the performance of Abdur'Rahman's attorney substandard. Abdur'Rahman has nearly exhausted all remaining avenues of judicial relief and his fate will soon rest with Tennessee Governor Sundquist.

      Abdur'Rahman's mental illness clearly constitutes a circumstance that mitigates his culpability for the capital charge. NMHA needs your support in advocating against this execution. We urge you to contact Governor Sundquist and ask that he commute Abdur'Rahman's sentence to life in prison.

      Arguments for our position:

      Mental Illness: Four mental health experts testified at the hearing before the district court in this case. All agreed that Abdur'Rahman suffered from a number of serious mental illnesses, including delusional thinking, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, paranoia and dissociation. Members of his family have also experienced mental illness. Abdur'Rahman's sister has been hospitalized and his brother committed suicide in 1997.

      Abusive Childhood: Abdur'Rahman suffered extreme abuse and neglect during childhood. His father ran the family like a military boot camp. He repeatedly beat Abdur'Rahman, hog-tied him and left him locked up in a closet. The abuse was regular and extreme. Abdur'Rahman's mother would not intervene between him and his abusive father and was often indifferent to her children.

      Excluded Evidence: Abdur'Rahman's sentencing jury was never informed about the abuse and neglect he suffered throughout his childhood or his serious mental illnesses. Eight trial jurors have signed affidavits that they are troubled that such facts were not disclosed at the trial.

      We urge you to take action: Under Tennessee law, the Governor has the exclusive power to commute a sentence of death to life in prison. NMHA urges you to write to the Governor on Abdur'Rahman's behalf. See attached letter.

      Express your concern about this case. Please fax or call: The Honorable Don Sundquist State Capitol Nashville, TN 37243-0001

      Telephone (615) 741-2001
      Fax (615) 532-1353
      E-mail dsundquist@mail.state.tn.us

      Mr. Charles M. Traughber
      Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole
      404 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 1300
      Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0580
      Phone Number: (615) 741-1150
      Fax Number: (615) 741-5337
      http://www2.state.tn.us/bopp/BO_Clem_Prc.htm

      Sample Materials: Below is the letter to Governor Sundquist that NMHA sent on behalf of Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman

      April 5, 2002

      The Honorable Don Sundquist
      State Capitol
      Nashville, TN 37243-0001

      Dear Governor Sundquist:

      On behalf of the National Mental Health Association (NMHA), I want to express our strong opposition to the death sentence of Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman, who is scheduled for execution on April 10, 2002. We urge you and the members of the Tennessee Board of Pardons to commute the death sentence of Mr. Abdur'Rahman to life in prison.

      Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman suffered extreme abuse and neglect during childhood. Testimony revealed that his father used to tie him up and lock him in a closet for hours at a time. Four mental health experts testified at the hearing before the District Court in this case. All agreed that Abdur'Rahman suffered from a multitude of serious mental illnesses, including delusional thinking, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, paranoia and dissociation.

      Research indicates that adults with mental illness can have severe impairments in judgment, logic, awareness, understanding and impulse control. Unfortunately, no information on his history of mental illness and his childhood abuse and neglect was raised during the trial; thus, the sentencing jury heard none of these mitigating circumstances.

      NMHA recognizes that it can be difficult to adequately assess the complexity of cases involving criminal defendants with mental illness. In this case, however, there is reason to believe that an individual with a severe mental illness might be executed without the court's knowledge of the existence of that illness and, therefore, without the requisite consideration of that mental illness as a mitigating factor. Abdur'Rahman's mental illness clearly constitutes a circumstance mitigating his culpability for the capital charge.

      For these reasons, we urge you and the members of the Tennessee Board of Pardons to commute the death sentence of Abu-Ali Abdur'Rahman to life in prison.

      Sincerely,

      Michael M. Faenza,
      MSSW National Mental Health Association President and CEO

      cc: Members of Tennessee Board of Pardons Attached is NMHA's press release (available at http://www.nmha.org/newsroom/system/news.vw.cfm?do=vw&rid=400) to national and trade press.

      Please feel free to customize the release and disseminate it to your state and local press. If you need help with your media efforts please contact Michelle Pruett at 703-838-7538 or mpruett@nmha.org.


RON STERLING, M.D.
DearShrink.com™
Seattle, Washington
Phone: 206-784-7842
Send E-Mail to Dr. Sterling
Updated April 9, 2002
Copyright 2000-2002. Ron Sterling, M.D.
All Rights Reserved.
Terms of Use
Legal Notices