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Mental Illness and Intellectual Disability

The death penalty is often levied against the most vulnerable people in our country, not the most dangerous. A disproportionate number of people on death row suffer from serious mental illness and intellectual disabilities.

There is no ban on executing people with serious mental illness. Even protective measures such as mitigation or competency determinations do not protect seriously mentally ill people from receiving death sentences and being executed. Though the United States Supreme Court has ruled that people with intellectual disabilities cannot be put to death, a number of states, including Georgia and Alabama, have found ways to still allow for the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Prior to the Supreme Court ruling in 2002, at least 44 people with intellectual disabilities had already been executed in the United States.