First Advisor

Marcus Sharpe

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors






Capital punishment -- Oregon, Mentally ill -- Oregon, Insanity (Law) -- Oregon, Administration of criminal justice -- Oregon, Insanity defense




There is emerging awareness on the potential arbitrariness and unconstitutionality of executing persons with mental illness. Most states with current death penalty laws have little to no protection for severely mentally ill defendants during capital trials. The present paper looked at the effectiveness of sentencing statutes serving the purpose of protecting defendants with severe mental illness in the state of Oregon. Through a careful meta-analysis this research focused on determining how mental illness plays into death penalty decisions and if Oregon’s Guilty Except for Insanity defense provides sufficient protection. Furthermore, the question of mental illness as a mitigating factor was explored as well. Attention was given to the current death row population in Oregon which included 24 inmates. Findings of this research concluded that while Oregon’s current laws do provide some level of protection the laws are potentially too broad leading to inconsistent applications. The paper provides a discussion on the limitations of these findings and suggested solutions to address the issues highlighted.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).

Persistent Identifier