Inmate IQ Scores: A Factor In Executions?

By: Toni Matthews-El - March 3, 2014

Executions in the United States are becoming increasingly controversial. While accusations of cruelty and racism play a major part in opposing capital punishment, some also feel that special attention must be paid to sentencing mental ill or handicapped individuals.

One man is claiming that the state of Florida should not be able to put him to death because an intellectual disability.

Death row inmate Freddy Lee Hall states that he is mentally handicapped, having been declared so since childhood. He allegedly has an IQ of 71. In the state of Florida, one needs to possess an IQ of 70 or better to be subject to the death penalty.

Hall argues that he likely falls within the five point “margin of error” than many psychiatrists claim exists for tested IQs, making it possible he falls below the minimum IQ number. His lawyer Seth Waxman adds that the courts simply cannot ignore the margin of error; an attempt to put him to death under such circumstances would violate Hall’s constitutional rights.

Hall also raises the question of whether or not an IQ test alone is enough to accuratrly determine one’s level mental deficiency.

Hall was convicted for the rape and murder of a pregnant woman and has been in jail awaiting his execution for 35 years, roughly five years longer than the anticipated maximum in Florida.

Should his appeal fail, he will likely be executed shortly thereafter.

Allen Windsor, a lawyer representing Florida, counters Hall’s claim by saying Hall meet’s the state’s IQ minimum. According to him, because things have been done a certain way in the state for years, there’s no need to consider changing them. Apparently, tradition takes precedent over a need to revisit a possible violation of the Constitution.

Windsor also cites the burden of evidence that the state successfully met in proving that Hall was guilty of his crime.

There is no doubt that the evidence proved guilt, however the issue is not whether or not Hall is guilty of a crime; it is whether or not he meets reasonable requirements that would allow the state of Florida to put him to death.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Toni Matthews-El

About the Author

Toni Matthews-ElToni Matthews-El hails from the land of chunked pumpkins and people who come to a complete stop before making any and every turn. When she isn't contributing articles to WebProNews, she spends her time freelance writing, cheering Liverpool FC, and enjoying life as a hair flower connoisseur. Disclaimer: Written opinions do not necessarily reflect that of WebProNews or its affiliates

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  • Dan Gregory

    If they are in prison,evidently they aren’t very smart to begin with.

  • Lou Dawgg

    Note to self… if convicted of murder in Florida, FLUNK the IQ test!

  • ABCali

    Frankly, I don’t care what his IQ is. He RAPED and MURDERED a PREGNANT woman. He is where he belongs. There are many people who have low IQ’s who wouldn’t dream of doing such a disgustingly sick thing.

  • ABCali

    And what about the deceased pregnant woman’s right to exist without fearing for her and her baby’s life? Obviously he has an IQ large enough to come up with this excuse to get away with his grossly deviant behavior, and God forbid, possibly be “compassionately” released on an absurd technicality!

  • hangman

    Smart enough to kill but to stupid to die!!!! REALY

  • crzbaby four-twenty

    and who’s the a$$hole that paid for this study?