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How should states determine whether someone is mentally fit to be executed?

November 6, 2013

By Jeremy Quattlebaum, Student Voices staff writer

What makes a person unfit to be executed?

The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on that question later this term when Hall v. Florida comes before the justices.

The case centers on Freddie Lee Hall and a previous Supreme Court ruling that forbid anyone deemed “mentally retarded” to be executed based on the clause in the Eighth Amendment that protects against “cruel and unusual punishment.”

In Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court decided in 2002 that it is unconstitutional to execute individuals who are mentally disabled because they cannot fully grasp the consequences of their actions. The court did not set a national standard on how to define “mentally retarded” and how states should apply the ruling.

This is where Hall v. Florida comes in.

In 1978, Hall and another man, Mack Ruffin, committed a double homicide in central Florida. Hall was sentenced to death while Ruffin’s death sentence was commuted to life in prison.

In response to Atkins, Florida and nine other states adopted what is called a “bright-line cutoff” that determines, based on an IQ score, whether a person is mentally competent to be executed. A score below the cutoff means the defendant is mentally retarded and cannot be executed. In Florida and the other states, a person who scores below 70 on an IQ test is considered mentally disabled.

After the Atkins ruling, Hall’s IQ was tested multiple times, and his results were between 71 and 80.

In court-mandated tests before the Atkins case, Hall scored a 60. In 1999, the Florida Supreme Court said that “there is no doubt that the defendant (Hall) has serious mental difficulties, is probably somewhat retarded, and certainly has learning difficulties and a speech impediment.”

So before Atkins, Hall was considered mentally disabled, but after the case, he was retested and found to be competent to be executed.

Hall’s lawyers argue that their client exhibited a degree of retardation that made him unable to understand the implications and gravity of his actions.

They also contend that the IQ tests are inaccurate and unreliable. They cite Hall’s score of a 60 in early testing, saying that the moving scale of Hall’s IQ shows that the tests should not be the determining factor in a death penalty case and that a hard-line score to determine whether a person is mentally fit to be executed is unconstitutional.

Hall’s attorney Eric Pinkard said: “Unfortunately, the human race has not yet developed a test for mental retardation that is like a blood pressure machine, hooked up to a defendant’s arm with a gauge that reads R for retarded or N for not retarded. The state of Florida cannot invent out of whole cloth a bright line cutoff for determining mental retardation.”

The Florida Supreme Court decided that Hall was mentally competent and that he was aware of what he was doing at the time of the killing. “While there is no doubt that [Hall] has serious mental difficulties, is probably somewhat retarded, and certainly has learning difficulties and a speech impediment, the Court finds that [Hall] was competent at the resentencing hearings,” the ruling read.

Two justices dissented. Justice Barbara Pariente wrote: “It is certainly of concern that in some states Hall would be mentally retarded by those states' definitions, while in others, like Florida, the bright-line cutoff requires a contrary finding. At some point in the future, the United States Supreme Court may determine that a bright-line cutoff is unconstitutional because of the risk of executing an individual who is in fact mentally retarded.”

What do you think?

Should states have a “bright-line cutoff” to determine whether someone is mentally competent to be executed? Should there be a more uniform definition for states? Or should there be a national standard? Do you agree with the Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia that it is “cruel and unusual punishment” to execute someone who is mentally disabled? Should an IQ test be the sole test to determine mental competence? How should the court rule in Hall’s case? Join the discussion and let us know what you think!
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Comments
1/27/2014
Sidney/MT
Garrett Darby
Mr. Faulhaber/Sidney High School
In my opinion, and many people will disagree. If you are out in the world, walking around and you have a mental issue, you should at least know between right and wrong. If you dont know between right and wrong then you should't be walking on the streets. If you kill someone and you should know that that was wrong!

1/17/2014
Irving, Texas
Jacob F
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not believe that there should be "bright-line cutoffs," but that could be a result of my disapproval of allowing mentally incompetent people to receive lesser punishments due to their disabilities. I believe that "cruel and unusual punishment" has been loosely interpreted due to the disabilities of others. Although they may not know about the consequences of their actions, they should not be treated any differently for a serious crime. There are even cases where mentally competent people have been let off with a lesser punishment because they said they "blacked out" or pled (?) temporary insanity. I just believe all people should be punished equivalently for serious crimes regardless of mental state and competence.

1/12/2014
Irving/Texas
Jose A.
Bradley/Nimitz
I agree with the fact that states should have some way of testing the ‘retardation’ level of a person, however, I also think that the resulting test should be more than a mere IQ test, which can have fluctuating scores. I also agree with the idea of a uniform definition for the retardation level of an individual. Previous experiences lead me to agree with the supreme court ruling in Atkins V. Virginia. I’ve personally seen ‘retarded’ people in their physical therapy sessions, and I truly believe that executing a ‘retarded’ person falls under “cruel and unusual punishment.” Let me elaborate on the idea of the IQ test being the sole decision on whether or not a person can be labeled ‘retarded’ by a state. There is no way that an unsteady IQ test can decide if a person can be labeled ‘retarded’, much less decide whether or not a person can be executed. I think that the court should let Hall go with some strings attached. By stings I mean he should be prescribed medication, taken to various therapy sessions, and keep an eye on him.

1/12/2014
Irving/TX
Daniel I
Bradley/Nimitz
States should not have a bright line cutoff based on IQ tests, the reasons simply being that IQ tests are in no way accurate enough to judge someone's mental capacity. Plus it has nothing to do with measuring someone's sanity or how mental they are. There are too many factors that determine mental stability for just one test to determine. Instead of death or being sent to prison people with their mental stability in so much doubt should be sent to a Psychiatric ward for help. Not just states, but the whole country should follow this. Mental Illnesses are something that people do not fully understand because there is not enough awareness for it.

1/8/2014
Irving/Tx
Jordan B.
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not agree with any of this, and actually find this fairly offensive. Not only is discrimination in a sense, but they are making something that is nothing into a big deal. When a mentally retarded person commits murder it IS cruel to give them an unfair sentence if they had no knowing or recollection of what they did. But to not take their word and have to administer a “test” and have a certain standard to pass is just adding to the stress of the situation.

1/7/2014
Irving/Texas
Teven
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not agree with the concept of a bright-line cutoff. In fact, I don't agree with the idea of mental retardation as a reason for excusing murder. That said, it is somewhat common knowledge that IQ tests do not determine mental competence, only ability to learn. The Court in Hall's case should grant capital punishment.

1/6/2014
Irving/Texas
Leanna
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that the "bright-line cutoff" can be easily misinterpreted and misused. I don't think it should be used to determine if a person is mentally competent to be executed. If it is to be used, I believe that there should be one sole definition of metal retardation, so there is not misinterpretations. I do agree with the ruling in the Atkins v. Virginia case. If the person cannot fully comprehend the situation, there is no point into killing the person. They can easily be left in the prison. I don't believe that an IQ test is sufficient in determining the mental capability of a person. Since the majority of the IQ test taken resulted above the metal retardation level, I think that Hall can still be executed. The system of determining metal retardation should definitely improved.

12/20/2013
Irving/Texas
Lyndsey
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that everyone has a different opinion on what a "bright-line cutoff" should be, so why even have one? I think if someone is capable enough to commit a crime where the court is debating execution or not, then that person should be executed. A crime is a crime, whether you are mentally ill or not. Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong. Unless it is very clear that someone is mentally ill, then tat person should pay for the crime they committed. An IQ test should not determine someone's mental competence. Because an IQ test varies every time a person takes it. Just because someone's IQ is low doesn't mean that they aren't capable of committing a crime. Someone with a high IQ can commit a crime. I think if Hall committed a crime, he should pay for his crime.

12/18/2013
Vacaville California
Spencer Palagi
Mr. Hawkins/ Buckingham
It is very debatable whether or not we should be allowed to execute people at all, however, in the case of that we can we adequately assess whether somebody is mentally adept enough to be worth executing? I would say yes. People only ever get put to death in this country for committing crimes that are especially heinous and directly harmful to another human being such as murder, or rape. To commit such crimes requires virtually a complete lack of empathy, and empathy for the most part is a primordial emotion. A long developed instinct more than a conscious deliberate process, no matter what they’re telling themselves, somebody with a sense of empathy, in the back of their minds, will be made uncomfortable and distressed by witnessing other human suffering. Empathy is not very contingent upon intelligence because it lies as deep as it does within the human psyche, and so I would say anybody who could deliberately harm another human being to such an extent, regardless of their mental acuity, must lack empathy, and to a certain extent be a monster, for even the most unintelligent person could tell if they’re doing something wrong when murdering another person if they’re someone who has a sense of empathy. In this case, I would say anybody who does murder, or rape, or etc. understands the magnitude of their crime and the possible ramifications and yet committed the crime anyway simply because they don’t mourn human suffering. There are several ways to thoroughly assess somebody’s measure of empathy, and if somebody were to kill another person, and the assessment demonstrates they are an uncaring, psychopathic, even if stupid individual, then their sentence should reflect the nature of their crime, regardless.

12/18/2013
Vacaville, CA
Benjamin G.
Mr. Hawkins/Buckingham Charter Magnet High School
Justice is, the majority of the time, set to be determined by a judge and a jury, however how does one expect to be accurately defined as one who seeks justice when such a situation as the one put in place by Florida is allowed to stand free from scrutiny. How can someone’s mental state be determined by a simple test? The “bright-line cutoff” is simply ridiculous in that people actually believe that it will somehow be able to determine whether an individual has a mental retardation. This legislation put in place in Florida states that an individual has an IQ 70 or below would be believed to have some sort of retardation. This idea, though it may make sense to some, is severely flawed. The subject of the article is an individual by the name of Freddie Hall, he was declared insane by the Florida Supreme court However on some occasions he tested at having an IQ of 80. How exactly is an IQ representative of an individual’s mental state? There have been many well-known individuals throughout history for their madness that would be considered geniuses today if this is being based upon a simple IQ test. Come one look at Hitler. Just because an individual is smart it does not mean that they have solid mental stability. Also when dealing with this there is the issue of faking it. If someone committed a horrendous crime and was subject to the death penalty all they would have to is score low on the IQ test and they would have immunity. Also if someone were to be normal and have an extremely low IQ based solely on their abilities and are just dumb they would be getting off for just being stupid and how is that fair. The best thing for Florida to do in this situation is to change their definition of “mentally handicapped”. They should really look into it and come up with a more detailed process to be used for determining whether someone is mentally retarded instead of just one simple test that is not conclusive at all.

12/18/2013
Vacaville, CA
Chantal Wake
Mr. Hawkins
I think that no one deserves to be executed, that it is a cruel and unusual punishment, but there are some cases in which it is acceptable to resort to execution. If a person goes out to the streets, or to a crowded shopping mall and starts shooting people for no reason other than they can, I think that they should be executed. We see people doing things like this in the news every day. Over the last couple months we have seen at least five cases where a guy walked into a crowd, or a movie theater, and started shooting. When the news hits the stands the next day the explanation for their actions is that there was something wrong with them mentally. I don’t think there is a way that we can truly tell if a person does have mental problems, there are many ways to get around the “bright-line cutoff” test. Results can be manipulated easily. Yes, some people may have mental problems and should be spared, but what if you had a homicidal maniac on your hands, who is smart and cunning. He could easily make it look like he has a mental problem to keep from being put to death, and then could escape. Basing a person’s life on their IQ score is not a sure way to tell if they have a mental problem.

12/15/2013
Irving/TX
Kristiyan
Bradley/Nimitz
In my opinion states should not have a “bright line cutoff” because a person should not be executed based on how mentally competent he or she is. Each state should have their signature sentences based on situations like this. An IQ test should not determine any of these factors or punishments. We are talking about people's lives at stake and if an IQ test is our solution to this issue, then we as a country have a lot of issues. Medical tests and examinations should be made before a life is decided to be taken away. I do agree on the Atkins v. Virginia case that it is “cruel and unusual punishment” to execute a mentally is person. However, if that person is causing harm to others and putting other people's lives at stake, then it is right to go on with a process of execution if medical examinations say it is necessary to do so. The court should have ruled Hall as competent to being executed and Hall should definitely serve a life sentence because of the fact that Hall knew and was completely aware of his actions at all times.

12/15/2013
Irving/Tx
Brian J.
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not believe that a mentally handicapped individual should be executed for any crime they commit because of their condition. But the idea of a test deciding whether a person is mentally fit to be executed seems wrong to me. I feel that someone may be able to cheat the test so to speak and get a lower score, therefore making them seem not as smart as they really are. This could enable them to bypass being executed just by faking a handicap. I do believe the courts made the right decision that time but there should be a national standard on deciding if someone is mentally fit to be executed. There has to be other means of testing to decide something as serious as this.

12/12/2013
Shoreline/Washington
Elly
Knox/Shorewood
Although I beleive that mentally retarded people should not be executed; I do not beleive that there should be a "bright-line" cutoff. First off I think that it would be confusing for states to have different cutoff lines because then sentences would be different depending on what state you are in. I really do beleive that there should be a pretty strict line set for what metally competent is; someone can't just be half metally retarded, you either are or you are not. I also beleive that if there is any doubt whatsoever that and IQ test is accurate, it shouldn't be used. It even says in the article that there is no test for metal retardation, so how are we actually suppose to know wether or not smeone is actually mentally retarded? The one thing I am uncertain about however, is what sentence Hall should receive. I don't think I would be able to decide unless I actually knew wether or not he was metally retarded.

12/12/2013
Shoreline Washington
Sam
Knox shorewood
I personally think that it isnt cruel or unusual punishment to execute someone who is learning impaired. It is more financially sound to execute a murderer who would otherwise spend the rest of his days in prison, and honestly, I think most of the people who are sentenced to life in prison would be just as happy to receive a lethal injection or the chair. The tax-money of those who fund the jail system that many reside could be put towards much more constructive use, through bettering education or expandjng the opportunity to get health care for less. Also, the IQ test idea is ridiculous, because someone could just underperform intentionally.

12/9/2013
Irving/TX
Brandon
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that states should not have a “bright-line cutoff”, instead, they should establish a national standard in order to avoid any sort of confusion. In addition, I agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling in Atkins v. Virginia that it is “cruel and unusual punishment” to execute someone who is mentally disabled because they cannot fully grasp the consequences of their actions. Also, I believe that many more factors than an IQ test are necessary to be able to judge one’s mental competence. Lastly, I believe that Hall should not receive the death penalty because he is mentally incapable.

12/4/2013
Irving/TX
Imbri
Bradley/Nimitz
I do agree that it is cruel and unusual punishment to execute a mentally retarded person who does not grasp he gravity of their actions. However, I don't believe they are determining who is retarded r not right- IQ is not a test based on intelligence, but mainly logic and spatial reasoning. I think the client should be put through various medical tests that indicate the true functions of their brain. If the suspect is indeed MR, I don't even believe they should go to prison. They should be held in a psychiatric ward, where they can be subdued when showing violent intentions. I believe it is cruel and unusual punishment to even keep them in the same prison as murderers and other criminals with normal brain activity.

12/2/2013
Irving, TX
Jesus Gonzalez
Bradley/Nimitz HS
States should not have a "bright-line- cutoff" for them to determine if someone is mentally competent to be executed.A IQ test will not be able to tell if someone is mentally ill or not.The reason being people who have a perfect mind always plead insanity making them mental and not to be executed?So the IQ test should not be the way to determine if someone should be executed or not.

11/28/2013
Irving/Tx
Marissa
Helen/ Bradley
In my opinion the government should set an overall standard in order to determine whether a person is mentally challenged or not. Seeing as how the IQ test isn't that accurate in determining if a person is mentally challenged or not, the government should come up with a more accurate way of determining that; until then though the government should have a set score that determines if a person is mentally challenged. It is unfair to punish those that are mentally challenged with the death sentence because they might not quite understand how their actions affect the consequences. I believe it is acceptable for a mentally challenged person to receive a sentence of life in prison though, like in the case of Hall.

11/23/2013
Irving/TX
Yamilleth
Bradley/Nimitz
I don't think the bright-line cutoff is the best or most effective way to determine if someone is mentally capable of knowing that they committed a criminal act. There are so many things that contribute to someone's mental stability for a one test to figure out . Plus the test must not be so efficient since different states have different standards for what is or is not mentally component to be executed. There could be people who purposely fail the test so they wont have to be executed, or who score a bit above the test's standard, but are still mentally incapable of understanding that they participated in an illegal act. Executing anyone is a pretty cruel act in itself. I understand the Supreme Court's decision when it came to trialing execution for those who are mentally disabled, but being mentally disabled shouldn't be the only reason as to why they get out of being executed. There are people who are mentally disabled that understand right from wrong. Unless an individual was raised in a violent environment that has caused them to think that killing is not a wrong act, or to not care, then there should be some kind of way to know if this individual truly did not feel like they were committing a criminal act. Not only base it on their mental capability and of they knew what they were doing, but what their morals are, and if they even feel sympathy when killing. The courts could go to the experts and ask psychiatrist's what they believe would be a better way to see if criminals morally and mentally knew of their actions, and run test to see what would best work.

11/23/2013
Irving/TX
Annabel
Bradley/Nimitz
States should not have a "bright-line cutoff" to determine whether someone is mentally competent to be executed for the simple reason that intelligence, or lack thereof, cannot be accurately be measured by a single test. Using a single test to measure whether or not someone is mentally retarded is too risky and should therefore be followed up by multiple tests that measure mental faculty by national standards. In agreement with the Supreme Court ruling in Atkins v. Virginia, I persist that it would be an unusual punishment to execute Hall if there was initially a lingering chance that he is retarded and was not completely, mentally in accordance with the harm he was doing.

11/22/2013
Irving/TX
Aaron
Bradley/Nimitz
Having a "bright-line cutoff" is something I struggle to take sides on. I do believe that all people should be held responsible for their actions, regardless of their intelligence, but at the same time, I have a hard time determining if whether or not all individuals--especially those of a lower mental standard--should all have the same punishments.....a contradiction at its finest. Having said that, in the case of "Atkins v. Virginia,' or any that may be similar to it, the opposing side of the accused, fit or unfit, I doubt, will be willing to forgive all actions of said person, regardless their mental health. And so, with that in mind, the question of having mentally-unfit persons charged with punishments (exectution, specifically) will be forever debatable----the only thing that will not, however, is that a crime, no matter by whom, will have been committed.

11/22/2013
Irving/Tx
Alonzo
Bradley/Nimitz
To start of, I support death as a penalty when committing a crime that deserves that. I'm talking about killing multiple people and crimes in that level. But to execute someone who doesn't know what they are doing half of the time is wrong in my opinion. I'm not saying that there should be a "bright line cut off" to determine if someone is mentally compentent to be executed. This shouldn't just be for certain states, the whole country should do it. As I said, executing someone who is mentally disabled is just wrong, so I support the ruling in Atkins v. Virginia. Giving a IQ test to determine if someone is mentally ill is not the best way. Now and days technology is groundbreaking, we are doing thing we never believe we would be able to do. So how can we not create a test of some sort that determines if someone is mentally disabled or not. In Halls case I wouldn't execute him, if there is some sort of proof that he is mentally ill I would not exude anyone.

11/22/2013
Irving/Texas
Hailey
Bradley/Nimitz
I do not agree with the “bright-line cutoff” and I don’t think states should have them. In my opinion, every human being varies and should be looked at differently based on their abilities and disabilities. Even if someone scores a 70 or above on an IQ test, doesn’t mean they understand what they did. I don’t think there should be any type of standard, because it should vary on the person, because everyone is different. I totally agree with the ruling in Atkins v. Virginia; a mentally disabled person should not be given the death penalty, because there is a big chance they had no idea what was going on. I don’t think an IQ test should be the only thing looked at when trying to figure out someones mental capacity. Other test should also be done to look deeper into the situation. I do not think Hall is mentally fit to be executed.

11/21/2013
Irving/TX
Edward H.
Bradley/Nimitz
Yes, states should have a "bright-line cutoff" for people with special needs facing a death sentence. People who have been struggling with special needs should not be trialed the same as a person with no physical or mental history. These people need to be helped in order to conform with society, not put on trial and killed. There should be a uniform definition for all of the states. And I would have to agree to a certain extent on that court ruling; they should have set a standard definition on mental retardation. But, the sole testing should not be the only thing to determine mental competence; they should really do some sort of background check and see if the person is really having mental trouble or is just pretending to get out of the situation. But as for Hall's case, I feel like they should take a better more thorough look at his case and really see if he is suffering from mental troubles.

11/20/2013
Irving/Texas
Scotty C.
Bradley/Nimitz
Yes, I believe that states should have a "bright-line cutoff." I am a huge supporter of state's rights, but on this issue there should be somewhat of a national standard. How is the same individual fit to be executed in one state, but not in another? However, we do not have a national standard yet, so all the Supreme Court has to work with is the state's standard. In this case they sided with the state, because their system deemed Freddie Hall fit to be executed and I agree with the ruling. But we as a nation need to come up with a national standard that has more "tests" than just an IQ test. It is a good measure of mental capacity, but we definitely need to find more so we can give those with disadvantages the right punishment.

11/15/2013
Irving/Tx
Seth
Bradley/Nimitz
Yes they should have a "bright-line cutoff" because that is the only thing that they have to give them any type of idea if they are mentally challenged or should be executed. I do think there should be a national standard so that it applies to everyone. I do think that the supreme court was wrong for ruling him to be executed but there is a possible chance that he may have not been mentally disabled. I do not think that an IQ test should solely be the way to determine this they should have other test also. Im pretty sure there is more than one way to prove someone is mentally disabled. I believe they should rule him mentally disabled and life in prison that is what i think.

11/15/2013
Irving/Tx
Pedro
Bradley/Nimitz
I disagree with the ruling in the Atkins v. Virginia case that says it is "cruel and unusual punishment" to execute someone who is mentally disabled. If one commits a crime then one should face the consequences regardless of their intelligence. That being said, there shouldn't be a "bright-line cutoff" to determine whether someone is mentally competent to be executed, but if there is then it should be a national standard. An IQ test shouldn't be the sole test to determine mental competence because they aren't always accurate and only show how the brain is doing at that particular moment. The court should rule that Hall needs to be executed.

11/15/2013
Irving/ Texas
Emily
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe everyone has a price to pay when they commit a crime mentally ill or not. If your going to commit murder you are mentally ill even if you don't take medication. I don't think the family of the victim will say" aww he is mentally ill it wasn't his fault he didn't know what he was doing." If a person is able to commit murder they must know exactly what they are doing and are capable to accept the ramifications. I don't think the IQ tests will be useful because the could easily be faked. Why should we treat them any different from any one else what happened to equality? We have so many programs that help those of mental disabilities so they are not left out from anything and can be equal to us. Why should we make an exception for them they are not stable and could possibly do it again. I think the should execute them it is much more humane than to let them rot in prison or in a mental institute.

11/15/2013
Irving/Texas
Chadwick
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe states should not possess a "bright-line cutoff" because determining whether a person is mentally fit to be executed should come on an individual basis as different people are able to grasp different consequences for their actions. If a standard must exist, a nation standard should be implemented to keep inequality from forming between states. If an individual isn't capable of grasping the consequences of their actions, then yes executing a person with a mental disability would be "cruel and unusual punishment". Many factors must play into the discerning a person's mental competence as an IQ test proves to be inaccurate and one test can't possibly decide the fate of a person's sentencing. I believe in Hall's case, the court should rule that he is mentally incapable of comprehending the consequences of his actions-thus allowing his sentence to be commuted to life in prison.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Monica M. M.
Bradley/Nimitz
In most court cases people plead not guilty by reason of insanity however a few people in reality are actually not guilty because of their health issues. It is a bright idea to have a type of exam that tells the people whether or not a person is fit for execution. The “bright-line cut off” would let the accused and victims know exactly what will be happening. Unless there is a better way to determine the answer then it should be a guideline to follow. During the time of witchcraft people would be accused of being witches and the sentencing would be death. In the case it would be the same because a person would be accused and sent to their death. I agreed with the Supreme Courts ruling of the “cruel and unusual punishments” because a person not mentally fit may not be able to process or understand the idea of laws and life. The accused will not wrap their head around the problem they caused thus the punishment would not be for them. There needs to be an alternate punishment. The IQ test can be the best option for now until a more accurate plan or instrument can be used to determine it. In the case of Hall vs. Florida the option of the mentally fit question can be used as a last resort. This is only if someone can think of something better. It would be very upsetting to have an innocent man die.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Cyndel
Bradley/Nimitz
I believe that there should be a bright-light cutoff” this way we can avoid having the disparaging ramifications on the issue. In the same sense we can be truly serving “justice” in the cases that come through the courts. I believe that a more concrete and stable definition of how to go about and the way to deliver the appropriate ramifications.This way there are no variables changing depending on the regions.This is why there is the need for a national “definition” to be set in stone for all of the states to follow regarding these types of cases and thus be free from scandalous verdicts.I do agree with the Supreme Court regarding the Atkins v. Virginia because it is pretty much like grounding a baby they wont understand because they don't have the capacity to understand the reason for the ramifications.They should not rely solely on an IQ test for mental capacity because the mind is so complex that one test isn't sufficient.In regards to Hall’s case further research should be made and a straight-line cutoff should be made sooner than later in order to prevent this situations.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Roberto S
Bradley/Nimitz Hs
I feel like that a IQ test shouldn't be a way to determine mental competence, and that could lead to bias views from different people. The "bright-line cutoff" is not a good representation or way to determine if a single individual is mentally retarded or to show if they're mentally competent .

11/14/2013
Irving/TX
Sergio G.
Bradley/Nimitz
Creating a bright line cutoff would actually be a great thing to do,but how to set that line would be a little complicated noting that their is ways to act like you are one or what if someone who is mentally disable manages to pass one of those test. If created though I believe their should be a national standard that all teachers must follow through to make it even for everyone in the country. Like said before I do believe executing mentally disabled people is violating the eight amendment because of their understanding of right and wrong is different with someone that functions normal, but to determine this should not be over a test not sure what would be the right way to do it but a test would not be the best way to go.

11/14/2013
Irving/TX
Reyanna
Bradley/Nimitz
I think that there should be a cut off as to how we determine who is executed and who is not determined on IQ. A mentally challenged person is not as aware of what they are doing as a person who is not mentally challenged. If regular people commit a crime they are punished and so should a mental person. They still have the same abilities as a normal person. I do think that extra testing should take place beyond the IQ test just to see if the person is really mentally challenged. I agree with the Atkins v. Virginia case.

11/14/2013
Irving/Texas
Joseph C.
Bradley/Nimitz
I think we should come up with a more accurate way of checking to see whether or not someone is mentally disabled before we start executing them. We could be executing people who are actually mentally disabled, and that does not seem right to me. Therefore, I think there should be more research put into the study of mental retardation so that we could come up with a better definition of it. Once we have come up these procedures I think it should be a national standard. How can you blame someone for doing something when they don't even know themselves of what they are doing? I agree that if they are indeed mentally disabled though, they should be placed in a facility where they can neither harm anyone nor themselves. Also, they should be given help to understand the consequences of their action. Along with what I have said I do agree with the ruling of Atkins v. Virginia. I think they should be put either in a correctional facility with no contact of the outside world until we come up with a proper test(s) to diagnose a mentally disabled person.

11/14/2013
Irving/Tx
Hannah W.
Bradley/Nimitz
In the case of Hall, and any other person in the states that have adopted the idea to test someone with an IQ test is wrong in many ways. When a person takes an IQ test once and then once more, the scores are going to be totally different. The whole point of an IQ test is to test your mind on a particular day. These tests are highly inaccurate and in no way determine how mentally stable a person is. I agree that people that are considered mentally retarded should be treated differently in the aspect of the death penalty. They are most likely not aware of what they are doing and how it is going to affect the people around them. I think that the court in the Hall case should have taken a closer look at Hall and maybe even performed a psych test on him to see how his mind worked.

11/14/2013
Irving/Tx
Miriam
Bradley/Nimitz
There should be a national set cut off for determining whether or not someone is mentally competent. If every state has their own cut of point it creates inconsistency. A uniformed national standard is most definitely needed. I do agree with the Atkins v. Virginia ruling because someone who is mentally disabled might not have the reasoning still needed to fulling understand their actions and the consequences of their actions. An IQ test should not be the sole factor in determining an individuals mental competence, but it can play a role. Individuals should be evaluated deeply using established national standards. If Hall has been retested multiple times, and found competent multiple times he should receive his punishment, whatever it may be.

11/14/2013
Irving/ Texas
Emily
Bradley/Nimitz
Personally I believe everyone has a price to pay if they commit a crime mentally ill or not. Everyone that commits murder is spiritually and mentally Ill. I don't think just because you take medication you should be judged lightly. Do you think the family of the person who got murdered is going to say " aww hes mentally ill he wasn't right he doesn't deserve this" Everyone wants justice; that's the foundation of our government.

11/13/2013
Irving/Texas
Sarah M.
Bradley/Nimitz
I definitely think there should be a clear cut off to aid in the determination of whether someone is competent or not. Each state having its own cut-off, in my opinion, is unnecessary. I don’t see how living in another state would affect your mental capacity, so I think there should be a nationwide standard. If someone is mentally disabled, and does not understand the severity of their actions, I don’t think they should be punished in full, so I agree with the court ruling on Atkins v. Virginia. IQ tests would probably be the most accurate way of testing someone’s mental competence, although a low IQ, I’m sure, could be faked. Steps may need to be taken to ensure that that can’t happen. As for how to rule in Halls case, further testing should be done. But, if it shows his IQ to be higher than the cutoff for mentally retarded, he should be given the appropriate punishment.

11/11/2013
Irving/Texas
Christian
Bradley/Nimitz
They should not if a person is able to commit murder then they should be able to take a test to see if they are actually mentally ill or not.States should have more uniform definitions because criminals are smart and they want to get away with it. And for the case i think that if you can do multiple tests to prove that someone is mentally ill then they should be done.

11/8/2013
irving/ texas
Adrian
bradley/ nimitz
What happened to the equality that our fathers have died for? why do we "spare" those of lesser intelligence? let the punishment fit the crime and let those who commit horrible crimes be executed no matter the IQ. Is it more humane to let the less intelligent rot in prison? The court should execute the man.

11/8/2013
Litchfield/ Mi
Jayson
Mr.clark/Litchfield community schools
With the death penalty against "Mentally Retarded" is wrong and goes against are natural born rights " Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness" how ever i believe that if someone has committed such a crime in they should be executed for what they have done but with the mentally challenged people it is fair to them that they are different, how ever if they are a danger to society then yes because if someone is considered "insane" because of there mental handicap and hurt people they should be executed but in a peaceful manor.

11/6/2013
Watertown/Ma
Vardan
Rimas/Watertown High School
I believe in death penalty im sorry a sin is a sin

11/6/2013
Watertown/MA
Edgar
Rimas/WHS
If someone's capable enough to kill someone they should be capable enough to get executed, if it is proved though question that the defendant is guilty they should be killed to spare the tax pairs the money it would take them to feed and house them the rest of their lives

11/6/2013
Watertown,MA
Marianna
Mr. Rimas/Watertown High School
I think that states should have a bright line cut off. I do agree with the supreme court ruling that it is cruel and unusual to execute someone who is mentally disabled. I do agree with the IQ testing but what if someone is faking it so they wont be executed?

11/6/2013
Watertown
Morgan
Rimas/WHS
Depending on if a person can tell the difference from right or wrong, would determine if they were mentally ill

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