Psychiatric, neurological, and psychoeducational characteristics of 15 death row inmates in the United States

Am J Psychiatry. 1986 Jul;143(7):838-45. doi: 10.1176/ajp.143.7.838.


The authors present the results of clinical evaluations of 15 death row inmates, chosen for examination because of the imminence of their executions and not for evidence of neuropsychopathology. All had histories of severe head injury, five had major neurological impairment, and seven others had other, less serious neurological problems (e.g., blackouts, soft signs). Psychoeducational testing provided further evidence of CNS dysfunction. Six subjects had schizophreniform psychoses antedating incarceration and two others were manic-depressive. The authors conclude that many condemned individuals probably suffer unrecognized severe psychiatric, neurological, and cognitive disorders relevant to considerations of mitigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bipolar Disorder / diagnosis
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology
  • Capital Punishment*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis*
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Prisoners* / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • United States