We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both. - Justice Louis Brandeis
Trickle-down economics is the first cousin of austerity economics. Austerity is nuts when so many millions are out of work. And as we’ve learned before, trickle-down is a fraud. Nothing ever trickles down. - Robert Reich, "A Story for May Day"
The US Supreme Court ruled in 2002 in Atkins v. Virginia, on Eighth Amendment grounds, that “the mentally retarded should be categorically excluded from execution.” That's "categorically" ... as in, in all cases. Yet Liliana Segura at The Nation reports that the great State of Texas has done exactly that. The Supreme Court, despite its ruling in Atkins, declined to intervene.
Marvin Wilson was a man with an IQ of 61. He sucked his thumb. There are serious questions about his alleged confession... to the wife of another defendant in the same case. There are evidentiary questions about whether he was the "trigger man" in the murder. There are similar questions based on forensic evidence about when the murder was committed... the night of the alleged assault, or the next morning. Questions, questions, questions... and no dependable answers, in part because Wilson was mentally incapable of speaking rationally in his own behalf.
Long-time readers know I have strong reservations about any use of the death penalty. This case goes far beyond those generic reservations: a society willing to execute a mentally incompetent person (even if the evidence of his guilt had been strong, which is dubious in this case) is an uncivilized society. I do not want to live in a society that executes mental incompetents, people whose culpability is severely limited by an inability to understand the consequences of their actions. Judicial executions of such people become murders in their own right, as the Supreme Court implicitly recognized in Atkins.
But it's an election year; we have a Republican governor and a conservative-dominated Supreme Court unwilling to act even based on its own recent ruling. So Marvin Wilson died as surely as his alleged victim died.
I suppose I should do my ritual denunciation of the death penalty in its role as an attempt to protect society, but I'm terribly fatigued just thinking about it. Rather than examine all the details, I'll just note that the Death Penalty Information Center shows that "[t]he murder rate in non-death penalty states has
remained consistently lower than the rate in states with the death
penalty, and the gap has grown since 1990," a statement which they base on two presumably reliable sources: the US Census and an FBI report "Crime in the United States."
So the death penalty has, if anything, a negative deterrent effect. That leaves vengeance as the only motivation for execution.