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No death penalty for mentally retarded inmatescomment (0)

July 11, 2002

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled June 20 that subjecting mentally retarded inmates to the death penalty is cruel and “excessive” punishment. “We are not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty,” said Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the 6–3 decision.

“We conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution ‘places a substantive restriction on the state’s power to take the life’ of a mentally retarded offender.”

The ruling did not address the broader question of the constitutionality of capital punishment and confined itself to the issue of mentally retarded defendants convicted of murder.

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