Death penalty and the mentally retarded

Essay by crybabyayhHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2002

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Honorable judge, worthy opponents. Please picture this scene. The teacher stands in the doorway of her classroom trying to get her first grade students to line up for library. Kayla Rolland, six years old, stands patiently waiting in line. One of the boys in the class approaches Kayla and withdraws a gun from his pocket and shoots Kayla in the chest. A half-hour later Kayla is dead. This is a true story. This six-year-old child will not receive the death penalty. Said County Prosecutor Arthur A. Busch and quote "His actions were naughty in his mindset, what he understood is a different matter. There is a presumption in law that that a child is not criminally responsible and can't form an intent to kill. Legally he can't be held criminally responsible." So if we don't hold six-year-olds responsible for murder because they are unable to comprehend the consequences of their actions can we hold a person who intellectually and psychologically is on a six-year-olds level responsible? Said Senator Ellis of Texas "Just like you don't execute children, we should not execute those who have the mental capacity of a child."

Many organizations have become involved in the effort to stop this unjust practice of executing the mentally retarded. The Arc along with the AAMR; the APA and 8 other organizations supported and signed the amicus curiae brief in the Penry vs. Lynaugh, which supports the abolition of the death penalty for people with retardation. In addition, the Arc adopted an official position statement in 1993 titled "access to justice and fair treatment under the criminal law for people with mental retardation", which advocates for the prohibition of the death penalty for people with mental retardation.

38 states in the United States of America have crimes that are punishable...