Inmate ordered off death row in North Carolina

Clinton Smith, a man sentenced to die in 1998 for the death of his daughter, was ordered off death row last week by state Supreme Court judge John Jolly, Jr.  Mr. Smith cannot read or write and has an IQ of less than 70.  He was found to be mentally retarded and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.   His sentence was changed to life in prison. 

The question remains, however, as to why Mr. Smith’s death sentence was not lessened six years ago after the Court ruled that executing the mentally retarded was cruel and unusual.  And how many other mentally retarded inmates await execution despite a Supreme Court ruling intended to protect them?  Unfortunately, justice for these inmates may be tied up in subjective definitions of “mental retardation”.  Each state has its own definition, many relying on vague qualifiers such as “subaverage general intellectual functioning” and “deficits in adaptive behavior”.  Many also rely on IQ scores, with one point meaning the difference between life and death.

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8 thoughts on “Inmate ordered off death row in North Carolina

  1. This is outrageous, that each state can interpret on their own. If you are menthally retarded, or psycologically ill, you are so for life. Regardless of stimuli or medication. One does not rid of a diagnose just because one is on meds, it means you are stabilised somehow.

    All this means each state can do as they chose …Regardless of the ruling.

  2. This is outrageous, that each state can interpret on their own. If you are menthally retarded, or psycologically ill, you are so for life. Regardless of stimuli or medication. One does not rid of a diagnose just because one is on meds, it means you are stabilised somehow.

    All this means each state can do as they chose …Regardless of the ruling.

  3. I also think that it is hideous on the part of one State or Authority to be able to change their own laws to fit whatever the situation may be. Everybody, even those of lesser mentality than some of us, knows that a Life sentence in prison is a 'cushy' thing for anybody and none of them fulfill a Life sentence. If they don't cause ant trouble while behind bars ( which also applies to handouts of their own TV's, music and various goodies, including computers), they are let out early because of 'good behaviour'. I think the whole thing is an outrage and would like to see people who do a crime, face and 'fill' the sentence for that crime.

  4. I also think that it is hideous on the part of one State or Authority to be able to change their own laws to fit whatever the situation may be. Everybody, even those of lesser mentality than some of us, knows that a Life sentence in prison is a ‘cushy’ thing for anybody and none of them fulfill a Life sentence. If they don’t cause ant trouble while behind bars ( which also applies to handouts of their own TV’s, music and various goodies, including computers), they are let out early because of ‘good behaviour’. I think the whole thing is an outrage and would like to see people who do a crime, face and ‘fill’ the sentence for that crime.

  5. What is really being missed from state to state inmate searches? Is it just a problem if the inmate is in the middle of being charged with a new crime or moving to another location?

  6. What is really being missed from state to state inmate searches? Is it just a problem if the inmate is in the middle of being charged with a new crime or moving to another location?

  7. What is really being missed from state to state inmate searches? Is it just a problem if the inmate is in the middle of being charged with a new crime or moving to another location?

  8. What is really being missed from state to state inmate searches? Is it just a problem if the inmate is in the middle of being charged with a new crime or moving to another location?