Supreme Court Bars Executing the Mentally Retarded:
“In one of the most important capital punishment cases in years, the United States Supreme Court ruled today that executing killers who are mentally retarded is unconstitutional.
The 6-to-3 ruling not only spared the life of Daryl R. Atkins, a Virginia inmate, at least for now, but could save scores of other death-row prisoners in the 20 states that still allow the execution of mentally retarded murderers. Thirty-eight states have capital punishment.” NY Times
Although this ruling opens a Pandora’s Box of complications some of them akin to the ongoing controversy over the ‘insanity defense’ for the mentally ill the humanity of not executing someone whose developmental level prevents them from appreciating the nature of their crime or the meaning of their death sentence seems manifest. Judging a society by how it treats its least able may still have some currency after all…