Ford v. Wainwright

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In Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399, 409-410 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that:

"The Eighth Amendment prohibits a State from carrying out a sentence of death upon a prisoner who is insane."

This prohibition applies despite a prisoner's earlier competency to be held responsible for committing a crime and to be tried for it. The Court held that prior findings of competency do not foreclose a prisoner from proving he is incompetent to be executed because of his present mental condition.

Under this rule, once a prisoner makes the requisite preliminary showing that his current mental state would bar his execution, the Eighth Amendment, applicable to the States under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, entitles him to an adjudication to determine his condition.