National Alliance on Mental Illness
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NAMI Praises Justice Department's Humane Decision In Kaczynski Case

NAMI Praises Justice Department's Humane Decision In Kaczynski Case
Urges Every Court to Follow Justice Department's Lead When Deciding Cases Involving Severe Mental Illnesses

Statement By Laurie M. Flynn, Executive Director
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill

Mary Rappaport 703/312-7886
Valerie Rheinstein 703/516-7963
For Immediate Release
22 Jan 98

NAMI praises the U.S. Department of Justice for agreeing to a plea arrangement in the prosecution of Theodore Kaczynski. While we deplore the tragic and senseless deaths and injuries he inflicted, the imposition of a death penalty on a person whose crimes were the direct result of an untreated mental illness would have been morally wrong and a miscarriage of justice.

Mr. Kaczynski suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, a serious brain disorder which typically is characterized by paranoid delusions and severely impaired insight. His lifetime sentence to a secure, locked facility where he can perpetrate no further harm to society is just. We hope that Mr. Kaczynski receives treatment for his illness, including appropriate medications during his lifetime of incarceration.

The case of Theodore Kaczynski should serve as an example for all courts deciding the fate of persons with severe mental illnesses. While people must be held responsible for their actions, the death penalty is never appropriate for a defendant suffering from schizophrenia or other serious brain disorders.

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Editor's Note: The Kaczynski case has brought to the attention of the American public the potentially devastating effects of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, many news reports have only added to the public's misunderstanding of this brain disorder. Now would be an opportune time to develop an educational piece for your audience on this devastating brain disorder. For your information, therefore, we have attached a fact sheet on schizophrenia. Please contact NAMI communications staff at 703/524-7600 with requests for additional information or interview opportunities to learn more about how this brain disorder impacts consumers and their families, and new treatment options now available.

With more than 168,000 members, NAMI is the nation's leading grassroots organization solely dedicated to improving the lives of persons with severe mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders. NAMI has more than 1,140 state and local affiliates in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Canada.