Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty

October 22, 2013

Eleven years ago, the Supreme Court banned the execution of intellectually disabled people in Atkins v. Virginia. Ever since, some states have worked to circumvent that ruling by defining intellectual disability using unscientific standards or by making it nearly impossible to prove. On Monday, the justices indicated that they may at last be ready to clarify the Atkins decision by agreeing to consider whether a Florida law defines intellectual disability too narrowly.

Freddie Lee Hall was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of a 21-year-old pregnant woman, Karol Hurst. The Florida trial court found that Mr. Hall had been “mentally retarded his entire life,” but capital punishment was not then prohibited in such cases.
Mr. Hall appealed his death sentence following the 2002 Atkins ruling, which held that people with intellectual disabilities are less culpable because of their “reduced capacity” for understanding, reasoning and impulse control. But the Florida Supreme Court ruled against him because he scored between 71 and 80 on recent I.Q. tests, and state law requires a score of 70 or lower for a finding of intellectual disability. Continue reading Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty

Parents file lawsuit in movie-theater death of 26-year-old man with Down syndrome

By Theresa Vargas, Published: October 17

The parents of Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old with Down syndrome who lost consciousness as three off-duty Frederick County sheriff’s deputies forced him from a movie theater, filed a lawsuit Thursday that describes his death as “violent, terrifying and painful” and blames it on the negligence and deliberate actions of others.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, names the deputies, the movie theater, the shopping center’s property manager, the sheriff’s office and the county as responsible for Saylor’s death on Jan. 12 and seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory damages. Continue reading Parents file lawsuit in movie-theater death of 26-year-old man with Down syndrome

Disabled NJ Girl Denied Transplant Gets Mother’s Kidney

Disabled NJ Girl Denied Transplant Gets Mother’s Kidney
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Performed Surgery on Amelia Rivera

ABC News
Oct. 11, 2013—

The New Jersey girl who was initially denied a transplant because of her mental disabilities has received a kidney and is at home with her two older brothers on the way to recovery.

Amelia Rivera, now 5, received a kidney from her mother, Chrissy Rivera, on July 3 at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her case inspired the state to pass legislation that prohibits discrimination against transplant patients.

“Things are going really well for Amelia and we were very pleased with the care we received from CHOP,” Rivera told

Rivera and her husband Joe said the care at CHOP was excellent and they have no hard feelings toward the hospital. But they said they hope others don’t have to go through their ordeal. Continue reading Disabled NJ Girl Denied Transplant Gets Mother’s Kidney