12, 2017Policy-making Process – Death Penalty and IntellectualDisability By many the death penalty or capitalpunishment is seen a cruel, since it consists of sentencing an individual to deathdue to the crimes they committed, which could rage from treason and espionageto murder and slaughter. Therefore, death sentence for those of intellectual disabilityis perceived as unfair since the people are not aware of their actions or don’tunderstand the repercussions their actions could attract. Intellectual Disabilitywas previously known as mental retardation by the American Association on Intellectualand Development Disabilities (AAIDD) formerly known as the American Associationon Mental Retardation, is described as “significantly sub-average general intellectualfunctioning existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifestedduring development period” (The American Association for Intellectual and DevelopmentDisabilities, 2010). Since the disability begins before the age of eighteen, aperson cannot use intellectual disability as an excuse for their crimes unlessthey have been previously diagnosed. A public policy will address the needs ofthe citizens, and a policy has been formulated to protect the mentally retardedfrom capital punishment. However, a policy is not simply wished upon. On thecontrary, it must undergo a process that consists of five stages. There is the agendasetting, policy formulation, policy adoption, policy implementation, and policyevaluation.
In the following text, the policy-making process of the deathpenalty and intellectual disability will be explained. To begin with, the agenda setting iswhere the problem is expresses. In this case, it would be to protect those whoare not able to properly contemplate their actions and ideas.
The intellectuallydisabled run the risk of being wrongfully convicted since they are unable to comprehendwhat is taking place, and since they are unable to communicate with the authoritiesand their lawyers they are in danger of being sentenced to death. After a problem has been identified,a policy is formulated to address the problem. The policy was not formulated bythe legislative or executive branch. Instead, a case or several, needed to betaken to Supreme Court for them to find the sentencing of mentally retarded peopleunconstitutional. An example of the problem would be the case of EarlWashington. The case of Washington is the perfect example of how if anintellectually disabled is not protected they can be easily convicted. He was condemnedin 1983 for a crime he did not commit, and with his disability the authorities wereable to make him confess to the crime.
He spent ten years on death row and acouple more years in prison when his innocence was proven with the help of DNA evidence.As can be seen, an individual with intellectual disability needs to beprotected since they are unable to protect themselves and to prevent theirwrongful execution. Hence, the policy was adopted withthe aid of several Supreme Court cases.
Among the cases would be Atkins v. Virginia, Hall v. Florida, and Moore v.Texas. With the case Atkins v. Virginia,the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of individual with mentalretardation was unconstitutional.
This governing was issued on June 20, 20002.The decision was supported by the Eight Amendment that goes against cruel orunusual punishment. This ruling contradicts an order made in 1989, in the case Penry v.
Lynaugh where the Supreme Courtconsidering the execution of the mentally retarded as constitutional. On another note, in 2014, Floridahad an accurate limit for the IQ to consider a person intellectually disabled,and if a person was one point over seventy they could be executed since theywere not, according to Florida law, intellectually disabled. Florida was ableto do this since in 2002, the Supreme court ruled the execution of mentally retardedunconstitutional, but they gave the states the right to set who would meet therequirements to be considered intellectually disabled. Henceforth, the case Hall v. Florida took place and in the Courtsaid that Florida’s law did not take conventional medical practice intoconsideration and that many other states did not have such a strict lawconsidering the IQ.
In addition, the Court gave an individual goes IQ didn’tmeet the standard for mental disability the right to present further evidenceto prove their claim. Additionally, and most recently,there is the case of Moore v. Texas. Theruling took place on March 28, 2017 and Texas was taken to court since theirability to determine if a person was intellectually disabled was not based onmedical evidence, but instead on stereotypes, other people’s testimony and a fictionalcharacter. For instance, those who knew the person on trial like teachers,friends, family, or other acquaintances would be questioned if they considered theperson intellectually disabled.
Furthermore, the prosecuted was asked if hecould make plans, lie for himself, and respond to questions. Since this processwas not medical or reliable, the Supreme Court ruled that Texas’ manner ofevaluation was “unacceptable” since it placed possible intellectually disabled individualat risk of being executed. The Court also used the Eighth Amendment as a defensefor the decision of the case. As can be seen with the cases, the policywas adopted and further prepared as other factors were taken into consideration.Many other cases will probably come in the future that will deal with other issuesthat we may not see at the moment, and hopefully they too are supported by thepolicy. After the policy has been adopted itneed to be implemented. Many laws or policies can be adopted, but if they arenot implemented they basically don’t exist. Some needs to make sure that therulings are being executed.
With the execution of intellectually disabled beingunconstitutional more and more states are outlawing the practice, while othersare making modification to their prosecution practices to protect these people.From 1989 to 2002, sixteen states out of the thirty-eight that exercise thedeath penalty have banned it. It would appear that the policy hasbeen successful, and it has not brought many complications. Previously mentioned,mental retardation is determined before the age of eighteen, so prisoners arenot being set free on false claims. From 2002 to 2013, there were 371 inmateson death row and about seven percent have claimed intellectual disability, andout of that percentage, half were proven “successfully” to be intellectuallydisabled.
It may not be an enormous number. But those numbers belong to peoplewho were on death row and now thanks to the policy have been saved from capitalpunishment. As can be seen, a problem waspresented to the public and actions were taken to protect those at risk, that cannotprotect themselves from the law if their condition is not deliberated. Nevertheless,with the aid of the court and those who fought to take their case to theSupreme Court have saved many from being wrongfully accused for a crime theydid not commit, and with that help of those who follow and practice the law thepolicy can be implemented and carried out. The entire system or process can be usedto solve a problem and determine if the solution was the correct one or ifanother is needed.
Works Cited “Intellectual Disability and the DeathPenalty.” American Civil Liberties Union, www.aclu.org/other/intellectual-disability-and-death-penalty.”IntellectualDisability and Death Penalty.” Death Penalty Information Center, 23 May 2017, deathpenaltyinfo.org/intellectual-disability-and-death-penalty#desc.