Is executing the mentally retarded Unconstitutional?.
Is sentencing execution upon a mentally retarded individual unconstitutional? This is a question that has recently been answered by the United States Supreme Court. According to Justice John Paul Stevens executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional. These issues were stemmed from a recent trial in Virginia that dealt with a mentally retarded male who was sentenced to death. There are conflicting opinions on this issue, that have to do with the interpretation of the eighth amendment the moral views of the supreme court justices, and the citizens of the United States.
One might ask, "What is the definition of mentally retarded?" According to an article written by the Dallas Morning News titled "Justices to Review Death Penalty for Mentally Retarded Inmates", states currently use a test containing three questions to determine whether a person is mentally retarded. The first question; is the person's IQ less than 70? (An average person's IQ is 100.) The second question; was mental retardation diagnosed by the age of 18? This is to ensure that a prisoner wouldn't try to act as if he were mentally retarded to get out of being executed. Finally it needs to be determined if the person can function normally in society by his ability to hold a job, live on his or her own and maintain friendships. (Curriden 1).
The eighth amendment states that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishment be inflicted." When stated cruel and unusual punishment, does this mean that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional? In 1989 the Supreme Court decided in the Penry V. Lynaugh case that executing the mentally retarded was allowed, and was not unconstitutional. (Shultz 2002).
In 1996 Daryl Atkins, an 18-year-old man with an IQ of 59 was convicted of murdering Eric Nesbitt, a 21-year-old man who worked as an airman for the U.