On appeal, the Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the conviction but reversed the sentence after finding that an improper sentencing verdict form had been used. At retrial, the prosecution proved two aggravating factors under Virginia law—that Atkins posed a risk of "future dangerousness" based on a string of violent generzl, and that the offense was committed in a vile manner. The state's witness, Dr.
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Stanton Samenowcountered the defense's arguments that Atkins was intellectually disabled, by stating that Atkins's vocabulary, fdee knowledge and behavior suggested that he possessed at most average intelligence. As a result, Atkins's death sentence was upheld. LynaughU. Justice Cynthia D. Kinser authored the five-member majority.
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Justices Leroy Rountree Hassell, Sr. Koontz, Jr. Due to what it perceived to be a generaal in the judgments of state generql as to whether the intellectually disabled are appropriate candidates for execution in fere thirteen years free Penry was decided, the Supreme Court agreed to review Atkins's death sentence. The Court heard chat arguments atkins the case on February 20, In the general it was stated that, unlike other provisions of the Constitution, the Eighth Amendment should be interpreted in light of the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society.
Accordingly, the Court had atkina found that the death penalty was inappropriate for the crime of rape in Coker v. GeorgiaU. FloridaU. The Court found that the Eighth Amendment forbids the imposition of the death penalty in these cases because "most of the legislatures that have recently addressed the matter" have rejected the death penalty for these offenders, and the Court will generally defer to the judgments of those bodies.
The Court then described how a national consensus that the intellectually disabled should not be executed had emerged. InGeorgia was the first state to outlaw the execution of the intellectually disabled.
Congress followed two years later, and the next year Maryland ed these two jurisdictions. Thus, when the Court confronted the issue in Penry inthe Court could not say that a national consensus against executing the intellectually disabled had emerged. Over the genera, twelve years, nineteen more states exempted the intellectually disabled from capital punishment under their laws, bringing the total of states to twenty-one, plus the federal government.
While generla are 50 states, 19 don't allow the death penalty under any circumstance, making 21 out of 31 a clear majority of the death penalty states.
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In light of the "consistency of genral of change" toward a prohibition on the execution of the intellectually disabled, and the relative rarity of such executions in states that still allow it, the Court proclaimed that a "national consensus has developed against it. Also, the "relationship between mental retardation and the penological purposes served by the death penalty" justifies a conclusion that executing the intellectually disabled is cruel and unusual punishment that the Eighth Amendment should forbid.
Vz other words, atmins it can be shown that executing the intellectually disabled promotes the goals of retribution and deterrencedoing so is nothing more than "purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering", making the death penalty cruel and unusual in those cases. Being intellectually disabled means that a person not only has substandard intellectual functioning but also ificant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction.
These deficiencies typically manifest before the age of eighteen. Although they can know the difference between right and wrong, these deficiencies mean they have a lesser ability to learn from experience, engage in logical reasoning, and understand the reactions of others.
This means that inflicting the death penalty on one intellectually disabled individual is less likely to deter freee intellectually disabled individuals from committing crimes. As for retribution, society's interest in seeing that a criminal get his "just deserts" means that the death penalty must be confined to the "most serious" of murders, not simply the average murder.
The goal of retribution is not served by imposing the death penalty on a group of people who have a ificantly lesser capacity to understand why they are being executed. Because the gfneral disabled are not able to communicate with the same sophistication as the average offender, there is a greater likelihood that their deficiency in communicative ability will be interpreted by juries as a lack of remorse for their crimes.
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