The God of the Old or New Testament? Gallup Examines Americans Reasons For or Against Death Penalty

Forth the fourth time Gallups pollsters probed Americans on why they support or oppose the death penalty.  Below is a summary.  Click here for the full Gallup article.

Americans’ top reasons for supporting the death penalty, including most prominently that it is necessary to take “an eye for an eye” when a murder is committed, demonstrate that Americans are less concerned with using the tool as a deterrent for future crimes and more so with using it as a means of punishment.

For those who oppose the death penalty, moral and religious reasons such as it is “wrong to take a life” are most popular. Considering the numerous accounts of death-row inmates being found innocent through the use of DNA evidence, it may be surprising that wrongful conviction is only tied for second as a reason cited by death penalty opponents. Practical reasons like the cost of keeping a prisoner on death row — for decades, potentially — does not factor as much into why Americans oppose the death penalty. Additionally, few opponents cite cruelty as a reason for their beliefs, despite recent news stories of botched executions in which lethal injections did not work as planned.

Hall v. Florida: SCOTUS tries to define “intellectual disability”

In 2002 the Supreme Court Ruled that the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments forbid the execution of persons with intellectual disability.  Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304, 321 (2002), but failed to define “intellectual disability.”  Florida, home to George Zimmerman, Casey Anthony and Alan Grayson, defined an intellectual disability as having an IQ score of 70 or less.  Those with an IQ greater than 70, including Freddie Lee Hall at 71, were foreclosed from arguing they have an intellectual disability.  Today in Hall v. Floridain a 5-4 opinion the Supreme Court held: “This rigid rule…creates an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed, and thus is unconstitutional.”  The opinion (discussed with greater detail and superior knowledge here) relies heavily on the medical community’s view that IQ tests are just one (imprecise) factor in assessing intellectual disability. 

For a discussion of the potential impact of Hall click here.

Click here for the full Opinion or visit the Library>Supreme Court Cases.