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IQ and The Death Penalty

  1. profile image0
    Sooner28posted 3 years ago

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/04/us/ju … tml?ref=us

    This is an article reporting on a future Supreme Court decision on how low a person's IQ can be before the individual is eligible for the death penalty.  Right now, the standard is around 70, but states have some discretion.

    I want to highlight this:

    Justice Stephen G. Breyer suggested that the court could require an expert to explain statistics to the judge or jury deciding whether the inmate had an intellectual disability. “What is so terrible about doing it?” he asked.

    Mr. Winsor responded that “what is so terrible about doing it is you would end up increasing the number of people who would be eligible for a mental retardation finding.”

    According to the Times, Allen Winsor is the solicitor general for the state of Florida, and his problem with increasing the IQ requirement for the death penalty is that "you would end up increasing the number of people who would be eligible for a mental retardation finding."  My emphasis.

    Why is this a problem?  If people are mentally retarded (in the clinical sense), then knowing that and improving our measures of it would be something we should all support!  Justice Breyer argues that the jury should hear from someone who knows how to interpret an IQ test, so the jury can completely understand what a mental retardation diagnosis means.  But Mr. Winsor is more concerned with getting convictions and looking "tough on crime," rather than ensuring true justice is served.

    Stories like this increase my cynicism.

    Of course, this article sidesteps the tricky issues about the validity of IQ tests in general and whether state psychologists can be trusted to deliver an accurate diagnosis.

    1. MelissaBarrett profile image60
      MelissaBarrettposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      See, the thing is MR/DD doesn't mean that someone can't tell right from wrong-which is essentially what the law is looking at for diminished capacity. It's not diminished capacity for intelligence, it's diminished capacity for intent.

      That's something that should be decided on an individual basis.

    2. profile image0
      Rad Manposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      Am I understanding this correctly? They ask guys on death row to right a test that if they fail they can't kill them? How many do you think will fail?

  2. maxoxam41 profile image76
    maxoxam41posted 3 years ago

    What about increasing jury's IQ?

    1. Silverspeeder profile image60
      Silverspeederposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I tend to agree with you max, I have served on a jury a number of times (in the UK) and although I wouldn't count myself as intellectually superior I have come across other jury members who could be considered as down right dumb. One even being influenced by what their horoscope had said on that day.
      The question is how far should you go to vet a jury?

    2. rhamson profile image77
      rhamsonposted 3 years agoin reply to this

      I have been notified of serving on jury duty which I have responded to with refusals. I have cited in my answer that I believe the current criminal justice system is corrupted by money by those who receive better representation based their ability to hire the best lawyers and staff. I also state that I have a complete distrust of the evidence collection by authorities as well as the expert for hire defenses that the very wealthy defendants enjoy as a matter of their station. I also protest the death penalty as a means to deter crime. It never has deterred criminal behavior and innocent lives grouped in with the criminals are lost to inadequate defense by those who are less than experienced.