Sunday, March 30, 2003

More on the veto session, including how to define mental retardation in death cases

Here the Washington Post lists the key items on the agenda for the veto session of the General Assembly, including one I'd not noticed previously - a new statute defining procedures for determining who is mentally retarded in capital murder cases. The new bill SB 1239 was passed in response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Atkins v. Virginia. The governor's recommendation appears here. According to the Post, Governor Warner amended the bill because "the bill's definition of mental retardation 'could permit the execution of some people with lifelong, bona fide status as persons with mental retardation,' so he proposed amendments to conform with language proposed by the state Crime Commission." The new bill's definition of mental retardation is this: "Mentally retarded" means a disability, originating before the age of 18 years, characterized concurrently by (i) significantly subaverage intellectual functioning as demonstrated by performance on a standardized measure of intellectual functioning administered in conformity with accepted professional practice, that is at least two standard deviations below the mean and (ii) significant limitations in adaptive behavior as expressed in all of the following: conceptual adaptive skills, social adaptive skills and practical adaptive skills.

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