Blog of Rights

Warren Hill, an Intellectually Disabled Death Row Prisoner, Is Scheduled to Die Next Week. His Execution Must Be Stayed.

By Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, ACLU at 2:03pm

BREAKING 7/15/2013 3:37pm: Fulton County Superior Court has temporarily stayed tonight's scheduled execution of Warren Hill so that a briefing can take place on Mr. Hill's complaint challenging the extreme secrecy surrounding the execution in light of Georgia's new Lethal Injection Secrecy Act. That briefing is scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 18th. A new execution date is expected to be set for Thursday, July 18th at 7 p.m. EST.

In less than a week, the state of Georgia plans to execute Warren Hill, whom experts for the State and the Defense have unanimously found to be intellectually disabled. Killing Mr. Hill would be both unconstitutional and unconscionable.

All experts who have evaluated Warren Hill agree that he fits the diagnostic classification of intellectually disabled (formerly called mentally retarded). It has been more than a decade since the Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that executing intellectually disabled prisoners violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment; the Court noted that their disability "places them at special risk of wrongful execution."

This case is highly unusual in that no State expert disputes that Mr. Hill falls within the definition of intellectual disability. It is thus a constitutional and moral imperative that Mr. Hill's execution be stayed, certainly until the Supreme Court and 11th Circuit can consider the petitions currently before them and issue decisions on the merits.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law. Executing this indisputably intellectually disabled man would not only violate our Constitution, but it would be cruel and unjust beyond reason.

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