This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Mentally Retarded Criminals Should Face The Death Penalty

2485 words - 10 pages

    On June 26, 1989, the United States Supreme Court, in the case of Penry v. Lynaugh, upheld the imposition of the death penaklty on a mentally retarded offender, John Penry (Chan 1211). The Court, also, held that the Federal Constitution's eighth amendment's cruel and unusual punishment clause is not violated by the execution of mentally retarded defendants (Cook 869). I strongly concur with the United States Supreme Court's decision. I do not believe that mentally retarded defendants should be categorically exempt from the death penalty because of their retardation. I hold this position because IQ test results are sometimes unreliable, there are different degrees of ...view middle of the document...

Each IQ test incorporates a standard error of measurement, which is the variation between the obtained score and the true score. This difference is sometimes as much as fifteen points. Thus, the IQ score obtrained by a defendant is only one of many possible scores that may be achieved with different sample questions or the same questions at a different time (Rumley 1334). Should a mentally retarded defendant with an IQ of 70 be exempt from the death penalty when his score could range anywhere from 85 to 55? I vehemently believe that a blanket exemption from the death penalty because of an unreliable IQ score is wrong. In addition, Grossman states that the IQ's of mentally retarded persons do not remain constant. Studies have shown great fluctuation in IQ scores for such reasons as fatigue or illness. Numerous studies indicate that motivational factors can affect IQ scores (Grossman 26-27). Certainly a defendant facing the death penalty would be highly motivated to do poorly on an IQ test knowing that a score of 70 or below could save him from the death penalty.

Although the reliability of IQ test results is questionable, many states including Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, and New Mexico have enacted legislation categorically prohibiting the execution of defendants who have an IQ of 70 or below (Rumley 132). These states presume that no mentally retarded defendant could ever act with the degree of blameworthiness associated with the death penalty (Rumley 132). This is a totally wrong assumption. That a particular IQ score is indicative of a specific degree of mental retardation must be rejected. Sarason, a clinical psychologist, states that it cannot be emphasized too strongly that a low IQ score does not enable one to state in what ways a particular individual is different from others with an identical score, what his reactions are to a variety of situations, his attitudes towards himself and others, and what effects he will produce on what kinds of people in what kinds of situations (qtd. in Woody 11). Regrettably, as previously mentioned, in several states, the IQ is the singular most heavily weighted factor in determining whether or not a defendant should receive the death penalty. Exonoration from the death penalty should not be based on a fallacious IQ score.


The problem with basing exemption from the death penalty on an IQ score is that IQ does not adequately relate to measures to everyday functioning nor the understanding of right from wrong. People obtaining the same IQ score vary widely in talents and social competence. These dissimilarities result from motivational factors and personality as well as social background (Zigler & Farber 398). IQ then should not be an indicator of everyday functioning. In the Penry v Lanaugh case, Justice O'Connor states that "there are various degrees of mental retardation and mentally retarded people are individuals of various abilities"...

Other Essays Like Mentally Retarded Criminals Should Face The Death Penalty

The death penalty should we let it go

398 words - 2 pages Death Penalty: Should you go?Everyday people are put in prison, and why for anything? Rape, murder, anything... But when you kill someone should you be put in prison? Or should you be put to the death penalty? And who should decide??? I think that you should be put to the death penalty. Why should we have to pay our taxes, and have them be spent on you to sit in prison and eat, drink, workout, and smoke? All daylong, and you are basically acting

Should Death Penalty Be Abolished In America?

2342 words - 10 pages Should Death Penalty be abolished in America? Death penalty, or capital punishment, the most severe punishment for criminals, has been in the punishment system in countries all over the world for thousands of years. The history of death penalty is almost as long as the history of human beings. Death penalty was once considered as natural as life itself. It was usually applied to those criminals who had conducted grave crimes and no one would

The Death Penalty: Anyone Who Muders Should Be Put To Death

1069 words - 5 pages . Society has always used punishment to discourage would-be criminals from unlawful action. Since society has the highest interest in preventing murder, it should use the strongest punishment available to prevent murder, and that is the death penalty. If murderers are sentenced to death and executed, potential murderers will think twice before killing for fear of losing their own life. Capital punishment is likely to prevent more than other

The Death Penalty

719 words - 3 pages death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and should be replaced by life in prison. The following reasons prove that the death penalty harms rather than helps any quest for a just, humane society. The Bible requires the death penalty for a wide variety of crimes, including sex before marriage, adultery, and homosexual behavior, doing work on Saturday and murder. Somehow people became more tolerant; they eliminated the death

Death to the Death Penalty

1008 words - 5 pages penalty does not deter murderers, it makes more. It does not vindicate victims, it creates them. The death penalty is an unnecessary and dangerous tool that modern society should be without. Some people will claim that the death penalty actually saves innocent lives by deterring would-be murderers from committing murder. Common sense, reason, and research prove that claim to be false. Writers, Donnahue and Wolfers, in their article, “Death

abolishing the death penalty

2858 words - 12 pages the extent that it should. If we started sentencing more murderers and serious offenders to death, then I believe that more people will fear the consequences in which they may face. Now, if we start convicting the serious criminals to death, then that doesn’t mean continue to let them appeal their sentence and take years before they’re actually put to death. One other thing that I believe that keeps the Death Penalty from being as effective

The Death Penalty

1673 words - 7 pages of a person by judicial process as a punishment for a crime. There are certain morals and effectiveness to having someone being punished in this manner; whether it is declaring a death sentence or execution itself, they are all still unjust. With that being said, the death penalty does not deter crime and should be abolished because it is totally inhumane, barbarous, and does not respect sanctity of life. The main reason the death penalty was

The Death Penalty

2028 words - 9 pages Beccaria believed the death penalty was neither useful nor necessary: The certainty, rather than the cruelty, of the punishment was what counted most” (Massimo, 2007 p5). One should be alive to achieve the certainty of the punishment. “Those against -- the abolitionists -- argue that the death penalty does not help to deter crime, contending that there is no objective evidence to support the claim that the death penalty reduces crime” (Massimo

The Death Penalty - 1059 words

1059 words - 5 pages are quick to point out that the United States remains one of the few Western Civilization countries that continues to support the death penalty, yet Americans are also more likely to encounter violent crime than citizens of other countries. I thoroughly support the death penalty. Justice mandates that criminals receive what they deserve. The punishment must fit the crime. If a burglar deserves imprisonment, then a murderer deserves death. The

The Death Penalty - 2210 words

2210 words - 9 pages chair, and an electrode was too big for his legs. The switch was pulled and the adult sized death mask fell from George Stinney’s face” (death penalty news). A young boy who was not even the right size for the equipment used to take his life was killed on the act of a “he said”. It was later said that the boy was threatened that his mother would be killed if he didn’t confess. There are also stories that the sheriff bribed the young boy with candy

Juveniles And The Death Penalty

2094 words - 9 pages 1982, the sentencing in the trial of Roach v. Martin, which involved a mentally retarded seventeen year old defendant, was the death penalty. In the trial of Thompson v. Oklahoma, fifteen year old Thompson had his sentence reversed after claiming cruel and unusual punishment with emphasis on the 8th Amendment, While in the case of Prejean v. Blackburn in 1984, a seventeen year old was given the death penalty and put to death for the same crime

Related Papers

Retarded People Shouldn't Get The Death Penalty

1496 words - 6 pages the level of a 10 year old is cruel, and should be unusual(Lyon 3).The United States does not execute children and shouldn't execute people with minds like a child. Children grow out of the temper tantrums, and the inability to reason, to learn to control their impulses, and they learn to think in long-range terms. Those that are disabled are forever stuck in that immature mentality. Those that are mentally retarded criminals should be given life imprisonment. They are not trustworthy enough to walk the streets, but they are not capable of the mature mind it takes to commit a murder in cold blood, and so they should not be given the death penalty.

Should The Death Penalty Be Introduced

991 words - 4 pages should not be used excessively for all criminals. However there are also lots of individuals who oppose this view and argue that it should not be used at all for anyone. There are many positive and negative points for the implementation of the death penalty.

Christians Should Not Support The Death Penalty

1570 words - 7 pages you had a person with reduced mental capabilities or the person is mentally disabled and the person is convicted of murder should he be put to death. Through this situation the Quadrilateral from above suggests no, because the bible calls for mercy and grace, reason calls for mercy and grace, tradition calls for mercy and grace, and last experience suggests mercy and grace. Therefore, the death penalty is clearly not morally appropriate in some

The Death Penalty Should Be Re Introduced

963 words - 4 pages The Death Penalty Should be Re-introduced in South Africa The death penalty should be abolished says the humanist; The death penalty shouldn't be abolished says the community. Well the death penalty is a controversial topic, and it is difficult to have it and also difficult to not have it. What is Capital punishment?  Capital punishment is the death penalty.  It is used today and was used in ancient times to punish a variety of offenses. Even