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Science-schmience, Georgia just wants to execute this intellectually disabled man

Here’s a riddle: Unless the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or the U.S. Supreme Court steps in, Warren Hill will be executed on January 27th in Georgia. Yet if Hill lived in any other state, he would be safe from execution. How could that be?

The answer is that Hill is a person with intellectual disability—a category of people the U.S. Supreme Court has banned from the death penalty—but Georgia’s unscientific standard for proving his disability prevents him from the protection he’d have in any other death row state.

It’s undisputed that Hill has had intellectual disability his entire life. All seven doctors who have examined him agree, even those hired by the State. Two Georgia Courts, one in 2002 and another in 2012, have also found Hill to be a person with intellectual disability by a preponderance of the evidence.

Yet unlike every other death row state, which uses a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, Georgia requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the heaviest burden of proof in the law. This is significant because there’s a clear consensus that it’s virtually impossible to prove one’s intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt in a capital case. Not only does this fly in the face of science, but it tragically results in the execution of persons with intellectual disability.

Hill’s case has galvanized a wide range of supporters, both in Georgia and nationwide, particularly those in the intellectual disability community. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, All About Developmental Disabilities, the Arc of Georgia, the Arc, and the largest national group for intellectual disability rights, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), all oppose Hill’s execution.

President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter have called for clemency in Mr. Hill’s case, as has the family of the victim, specifically citing Hill’s intellectual disability. Several members of Mr. Hill’s original jury have stated under oath that life without parole is the appropriate sentence; they say they would not have given him the death penalty at trial if life without parole had been an option. A poll even found that a majority of Georgians do not support executing a person with intellectual disability like Hill.

The will of U.S. Supreme Court and Georgians is clear: in this country, we do not execute persons with intellectual disability. Yet if the Court or the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles does not step in, that is exactly what will happen on Tuesday.

You can sign a letter in support of clemency for Warren Hill and learn more about the case at www.SaveWarrenHill.com.

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Science-schmience, Georgia just wants to execute this intellectually disabled man

Here’s a riddle: Unless the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or the U.S. Supreme Court steps in, Warren Hill will be executed on January 27th in Georgia. Yet if Hill lived in any other state, he would be safe from execution. How could that be?

The answer is that Hill is a person with intellectual disability—a category of people the U.S. Supreme Court has banned from the death penalty—but Georgia’s unscientific standard for proving his disability prevents him from the protection he’d have in any other death row state.

It’s undisputed that Hill has had intellectual disability his entire life. All seven doctors who have examined him agree, even those hired by the State. Two Georgia Courts, one in 2002 and another in 2012, have also found Hill to be a person with intellectual disability by a preponderance of the evidence.

Yet unlike every other death row state, which uses a “preponderance of the evidence” standard, Georgia requires proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the heaviest burden of proof in the law. This is significant because there’s a clear consensus that it’s virtually impossible to prove one’s intellectual disability beyond a reasonable doubt in a capital case. Not only does this fly in the face of science, but it tragically results in the execution of persons with intellectual disability.

Hill’s case has galvanized a wide range of supporters, both in Georgia and nationwide, particularly those in the intellectual disability community. The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities, All About Developmental Disabilities, the Arc of Georgiathe Arc, and the largest national group for intellectual disability rights, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD), all oppose Hill’s execution.

President Jimmy Carter and Rosalyn Carter have called for clemency in Mr. Hill’s case, as has the family of the victim, specifically citing Hill’s intellectual disability. Several members of Mr. Hill’s original jury have stated under oath that life without parole is the appropriate sentence; they say they would not have given him the death penalty at trial if life without parole had been an option. A poll even found that a majority of Georgians do not support executing a person with intellectual disability like Hill.

The will of U.S. Supreme Court and Georgians is clear: in this country, we do not execute persons with intellectual disability. Yet if the Court or the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles does not step in, that is exactly what will happen on Tuesday.

You can sign a letter in support of clemency for Warren Hill and learn more about the case at www.SaveWarrenHill.com.

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Update – Jan 22, 2015: Today, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Hall v. Florida that states may not adopt laws which enhance the risk of executing the intellectually disabled, attorneys for Warren Hill today filed a motion for stay of execution and a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Learn more here.

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