06 August, 2012

Texas USA - Executions scheduled

Updated 8th August 2012

The next planned execution in Texas (USA) is that of Marvin Wilson.  According to an article published by The Guardian 5th August 2012, Wilson is "mentally retarded" as assessed by a battery of tests.  The execution of those who are 'mentally retarded' was declared unconstitutional by a 6 to 3 majority in the United States Supreme Court in Atkins v Virginia 2002.  However, it has been left to individual States to determine who is within that category.   According to The Guardian's article, Texas rejects scientific consensus and instead applies its own definition of learning difficulties based on the character Lennie Small in John Steinbeck's novel - 'Of Mice and Men.'  The so-called "Briseño factors" apply - see Death Penalty Information Center - and Texas stands alone in having this unusual test of mental retardation (or intellectual disability).

A list of planned executions in Texas is here.   Eight executions planned between 7th August and the end of 2012.

Ex parte José Garcia Briseño - Court of Criminal Appeals Texas - 9th June 2010

Amnesty USA 

Article by Lisa Falkenberg - Texas view of executing mentally ill based on fiction  - 'the goal is to spare as few as possible"

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Texas carried out the execution of Marvin Wilson - The Guardian 8th August 2012.   This was done after a final appeal to the Supreme Court of the USA failed.  The decision of SCOTUS is terse:

(ORDER LIST: 567 U.S.)
12-5349 WILSON, MARVIN L. V. THALER, DIR., TX DCJ (12A128) The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

No indication here of the arguments put to the court on Wilson's behalf or the court's reasoning in rejecting them.  This is appalling and all the more so in a case involving a man's life.

Amnesty International said that it is "highly disturbing" that the U.S. Supreme Court – ignoring its own decade-old ruling – refused to prevent the execution of Marvin Wilson, despite his low I.Q. of 61. The court‘s refusal to stay the execution defies its own 2002 ban on executing individuals with diminished mental capacity.  The decision was made despite Wilson‘s lawyer‘s contention that Texas‘ stereotype-riddled set of questions to determine "mental retardation" in capital cases is, in fact, unconstitutional.   See the statement by Amnesty

Amnesty note that Wilson's execution is the 7th in Texas this year and the 500th in Texas over the last 30 years.  In the USA as a whole, 1301 have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. 

Further executions are scheduled in the USA. 

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