Inmate IQ Scores: A Factor In Executions?

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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

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