Twenty-five years ago, Georgia became the first state to enact a law preventing the execution of death row inmates who are mentally ill.
This week, the state is reexamining a requirement for defendants to prove their intellectual disabilities beyond a reasonable doubt, as a state House committee is seeking public input during an out-of-session meeting.
The state’s current law is considered to be the toughest in the nation, as all other states with the death penalty utilize a standard of “preponderance of the evidence” to determine if a defendant has an intellectual disability.
Thursday’s meeting arrives against the backdrop of the case of Warren Lee Hill, a mentally retarded inmate with an IQ of just 70, who killed a fellow inmate in 1990. Hill, who was serving a life sentence for killing a former girlfriend four years prior, is one of 97 men and women currently on death row in Georgia.
Georgia is one of 32 states that permits the death penalty. In May, the state of Maryland repealed the death penalty a year after the state of Connecticut did the same, joining four other states that have done so since 2007.