There are many individuals who are mentally disabled and executed for their crimes; there has been intense debate over the constitutional and moral implications of such an act. Those that argue that such people should be excluded from the death penalty state that the mentally retarded individuals do not have control over their actions, moreover they are unable to take part in their own defense and hence do not know the exact nature of the punishment they will receive.

Those who believe that the mentally disabled should be given the death penalty after being proven guilty say that such a law which lets individuals off the death row based on mental disability would cause all death row inmates to have a false claim that they are disabled. These criminals would have committed serious crimes and because of this law they might be able to serve lesser punishments and someday even be released back into the real world. Hence execution convicts on the basis of IQ scores can be a form of injustice.

There are around 28 to 38 states in America which allow the mentally disabled to be executed, this issue is still a little unresolved. It is a very hot topic in America mainly because it questions the reliability of the legal system. It is also an important issue because it questions the moral obligations of American citizens in terms of public policy and the effects on the lives of other fellow citizens. Hence is this reason enough that the mentally disabled be excused from the death penalty?

The diagnosis for mental disability is made on the basis of a series of tests, and the results place the individual on one of the four or five categories of severity depending upon the IQ score. The severity ranges from Mild disability, Moderate disability, severe disability, profound disability and even at times borderline disability. Those that suffer from mental disabilities face many hurdles, but most of them do end up living meaningful and fulfilling lives with the help of a support group or network.


In my opinion those who are mentally disabled and pass the tests, written and psychological as mentally disabled should not be put on death row. If they are mentally ill they cannot be fully held responsible for the crimes that they have committed. If they need to be tried for the act they should be put on trial on the basis of the severity of their disabilities. Moreover if it is seen by the court that the crime they committed had no motive and was majorly due to the fact that they are mentally disabled then in my opinion they should not be put on the death row. They should be able to seek medical services with mental health specialists, they can even be sent to a mental institution where society pays to take care of them. Now opponents might argue that if someone commits a crime the people and society should not go and look after them but instead punish them so they learn.

However mental disability is an illness and it should be treated, the criminals who are mentally disabled can be kept away from the population in more humane ways then being executed. There are mental health institutions which house mentally disable individuals and does not treat them like inmates but tries to help them cope. In my opinion executing them on the argument that a common law would allow the mentally able to have falsified disability claims and would be given lesser punishments is no viable argument. Just because there is a fear that the legal framework would be fooled you cannot do injustice to the mentally disabled.