More than a third of a century later, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the death sentence of an intellectually disabled killer in Starke
The news today at the top of the front: The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the death sentence of Freddie Lee Hall, who killed a Hernando County sheriff's deputy and a pregnant woman in Sumter County on the same day in 1978. Three things I underlined in the Times' editorial:
1. The difficulty in defining which death row inmates are so intellectually disabled they should not be executed is one more reason to stop imposing the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday prudently overturned a Florida law that says inmates with an IQ score above 70 cannot be considered intellectually disabled and avoid a death sentence. But the court gave little guidance to the Florida Legislature about how to better define when someone is so intellectually disabled that executing him would violate the U.S. Constitution's ban against cruel and unusual punishment. The likelihood that Florida legislators will set politics aside to craft a thoughtful response ranges between slim and none.
2. "Florida's law contravenes our nation's commitment to dignity and its duty to teach human decency as the mark of a civilized world."
3. The same criticism applies to the death penalty overall. Other states that are struggling to mix an effective lethal cocktail of drugs for executions are pondering a return to firing squads or the electric chair. In Florida, the deadly injections are working just fine at Florida State Prison, and Gov. Rick Scott is signing death warrants at a faster pace. That hardly reflects human decency in a civilized world.