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Mentally Retarded and the Death Penalty

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Mentally Retarded and the Death Penalty

Today at least 10% of death row inmates are mentally retarded. According to the Wikipedea, mental retardation is defined as a term for a pattern of persistently slow learning of basic motor and language skills during childhood, and a significantly below-normal intellectual capacity as an adult. Mentally retarded people are defenseless when it comes to being wrongfully convicted and/or punished. With their desire to please the authorities, mentally retarded criminals are susceptible into being influenced (when they are being interrogated) that sometimes confess to crimes they didn't commit. Their low status of mind makes it difficult for them to defend themselves from any crime they are being charged with. For those reasons, on June 20, 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is in violation of the eight amendment of the constitution to exonerate mentally retarded people. From the 1980's to 21st century, sixteen of the 38 states that have the death penalty outnumbered the law of executing mentally retarded people, making the total of states executing mentally retarded people to eighteen. In order to be considered mentally retarded, first, a person must have a sub-average intellectual functioning. Second, a person must have a hard time blending in with the everyday world, and third, the disability must manifest itself prior to adulthood, which is usually considered age eighteen. (This third reason make it hard to fake mental retardation.) Capital punishment was first started in ancient times throughout the world. The first movements for abandoning the capital punishment first began in the 18th century. A few of the first countries to abandon the death penalty were Venezuela, San Marino, and Costa Rica all between 1860 and 1880. Now in present time, more than half the world has abandoned capital punishment by law for good. Most of the executions that take place around the world only occur in some countries like: China, United States, Iran and other countries. With today's laws there are problems with mentally retarded people not being fairly charged because of their mental disadvantage.

Works Cited

Ashraf, Haroon. "US Supreme Court drops death penalty for mentally retarded murderers." Lancet (29 June 2002): 2259 Academic Search Premier. EBSCOHost. The University of Texas-Pan American Library, Edinburg, TX. 23 May 2005.

Biskupic, Joan "Retarded Convicts can't be executed" USA Today (21 June 2002) Academic Search Premier. EBSCHost. The University of Texas-Pan American Library, Edinburg, TX 24 May 2005.

Bronczar, Thomas P. "Capital Punishment, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice. 10 November 2004. 20 May 2005.

"Death Penalty". Amnesty



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