Essay about Mentally Retarded Criminals Must Face the Death Penalty

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This paper will discuss whether or not mentally retarded criminals should be held accountable for their actions with the punishment of execution when the crime is murder. I do not believe that mentally retarded criminals should have a blanket exemption from the death penalty because of their mental incapacity. Although all cases of murder involving a mentally retarded suspect are unique, the lives extinguished by these murderers are of no less value than those whose lives taken by mentally competent murderers. Presently, the Supreme Court of the United States upholds the execution of mentally retarded defendants and holds the belief that capital punishment does not violate the cruel and unusual punishment clause of the…show more content…
One article that goes into detail about this issue is an article taken from the St. Louis University Law Journal written by Virginia Wilson. A third issue is whether the mentally retarded suspect can distinguish right from wrong and and understand the consequences of wrongful acts. One Article that explains this issue is "Innocent and free at last" by Joseph P. Shapiro. The arguments against execution of the mentally retarded usually are based on the assumption that mentally retarded people confess to crimes that they did not commit because they want to please authority figures such as police. Richard Ofshe, a sociologist at the University of California and specialist in interrogation techniques, feels that mentally retarded people like to accommodate when in a disagreement. For them, agreeing is a way of surviving. To get a confession from such people, he adds "is like taking candy from a baby" (Smolowe 51). While all cases are different, I do not feel that Mr. Ofshe's statement is true for all mentally retarded criminals. There are different degrees of retardation and different degrees of knowing right from wrong among the mentally retarded population. The case of Girvies Davis is one example of a mentally retarded suspect who confessed to murder and later claimed that he was coerced by

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