Case: Atkins vs. Virginia

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What is Mental Retardation? Mental retardation is a condition diagnosed before age 18 that includes below-average general intellectual function, and a lack of the skills necessary for daily living. We should not sentence a mental retarded to death because there was a delay deficiency in all aspects of development. How can you punish a person if they do not have all the skill as a person without any deficiency? It is unfair to even to think about the death sentence for action he did not know he was committing. People with mental retardation can fall prey when people with greater intelligence decide to take advantage of them, and they become the involuntary tools of others. As one expert in mental retardation has noted, "Most people with mental retardation don't act alone. They are usually dependent. They are never the ringleader or the leader of a gang.” People with mental retardation may also engage in criminal behavior because of their characteristically poor impulse control, difficulty with long-term thinking, and difficulty handling stressful and emotionally loaded situations. One example is when William Smith, I.Q. 65, tried to take money from "old Dan," a friendly elderly storekeeper he had known all his life. When Dan resisted, Smith panicked and lashed out, killing him. Low logical skills and limited planning capacities mean that people who have mental retardation are more likely than people of normal intelligence to get caught if they commit crimes. As a result, they make good "fall guys" for more refined criminals.
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