Forensic application of intelligence testing
During early 1900s, French psychologist Alfred Binet was asked by the government to design a testing system to determine children’s abilities to be prepared to enter school. Binet and his colleague, Theodore Simon, started to design a set of questions which were supposed to measure attributes like attention, memory and problem-solving skills, all of which were considered necessary for young children to start school. After the test was taken by all the children, they then chose the questions which best predicted those children’s success in school. Those questions made up the original Stanford-Binet Intelligence ...view middle of the document...
. The legal definition for mental retardation is “subnormal general intellectual functioning which originates during the developmental period and is associated with impairment of learning and social adjustment or maturation”. Even though there is no single IQ test or diagnosis can render an individual’s competence to execute a will or consent a treatment, the intelligence testing is still a crucial part of a comprehensive assessment of an individual’s intellectual functioning. A mentally retarded person may be incompetent to stand a trial, and may be more vulnerable to suggestibility. In DSM-IV Manual, mental retardation is defined as “significantly subaverage intellectual functioning-an IQ of approximately 70 or below with onset before the age of 18 years and concurrent deficits or impairments in adaptive functioning.” On October, 5, 2010, President Obama signed a law mandating Federal statutes will no longer use the term “mental retardation;” the replacement phrase is “intellectual disability.”
The most accepted intelligence test for adults is the Weshler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III). This test is made up with different verbal tests and performance tests. The subsets of verbal tests are measuring vocabulary knowledge, a general fund of information of the world, verbal abstract reasoning, social judgment and common sense, arithmetic skills, short-term memory and attention. The subsets of performance are measuring visual-motor coordination, perceptual organization, visual abstract reasoning, and attention to details. To have this clear awareness of mental capacity is particularly important in United States Supreme Court Ruling. In 2002, Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed its 1989 decision in Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, and held that it is now unconstitutional to execute the mentally retarded. The court noted that few mentally retarded individuals had been executed since 1989, and that many states had outlawed the execution of the mentally retarded since the Penry decision. (Bruce, 2003) As the mental retardation cases were brought out in amount of capital cases, it is important for the lawyers to understand some implications of it in the context of criminal law. Since one of the functions of the penalties from law enforcement departments is to deter people from committing a crime, however, a mentally retarded person is less like to be aware of the potential negative consequences of unlawful action. Hence it becomes a less fair or functioning tool for the mentally retarded to receive a same penalty as the average people. Because mentally retarded people are more vulnerable to leading questions and intensive interrogation, both of which make them more likely to give false confessions. So the execution of the mentally retarded may hence become a life-or-death decision to make of a potential innocent person.
Even though an individual’s intelligence is more likely to be stable, one’s IQ score is more likely to...