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Competency for Execution

Competency for execution refers to a person’s ability to understand the reason, imminence, and finality of his or her execution. The evaluation of competency for execution is one of the most infrequently encountered, but arguably highest stakes, of forensic mental health evaluations. Because an evaluation of competency for execution is inextricably and proximally associated with the carrying out of a death sentence, the participation of mental health experts in such determinations has been the subject of ethical controversy in the professional community. This entry reviews the conceptual framework of contemporary parameters of competency for execution in the United States and discusses challenges associated with competency for execution evaluations.

Conceptual Framework

Prohibiting the execution of mentally incompetent persons is a centuries-old social and religious value, embedded in ...

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