Action Alert: Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty

PAPE ProjectPlease Urge your Legislators to Support Changing the Standard of Proof for Intellectual Disability in Death Penalty Cases to Preponderance of the Evidence! 

SB 185 has been introduced in the Georgia Senate by Senator Elena Parent and Co-Sponsored by Senator Fran Millar, Senator Vincent Fort, and Senator Nan Orrock, and Senator Horacena Tate. SB 185 will change the standard of proof placed on individuals with intellectual disabilities in death penalty cases in Georgia from “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” to “Preponderance of the Evidence.” You can read the legislation here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20172018/SB/185.

The issue: Georgia is the only state in the country that uses the most difficult standard of proof in order to meet the legal standard of Intellectual Disability in death penalty cases, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” This standard is an extremely challenging legal obstacle to overcome, and Georgia is an outlier in requiring it.  Of the jurisdictions that still have the death penalty, 22 use the standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence.” Because of Georgia’s incredibly high standard of proof, Georgia continues to execute people with intellectual disabilities, including Warren Lee Hill, who the State of Georgia executed on January 27, 2015. Had Mr. Hill been convicted of the same crime in any other state, he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.

Learn More: For more information on this issue, you can review our overview fact sheet on the topic here: http://bit.ly/2lLhcNd.

How you can help: Please take a moment to write or call your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support SB 185 and change the standard of proof to Preponderance of the Evidence.

If you don’t already know who you legislators are, you can look them up using your mailing address here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

We also strongly encourage you to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (listed below) and urge them to support SB 185 and change the standard of proof to Preponderance of the Evidence!

Sample Letter:

Dear Senator or Representative [Insert Last Name],

My name is [Insert Your Name] and I am a Georgia voter from [insert here].

I am writing you to ask that you support SB 185 and change Georgia’s standard for proving intellectual disability to “Preponderance of the Evidence” in death penalty cases. Despite voluntarily banning the execution of people with intellectual disabilities 14 years before the 2002 Atkins v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling on this issue, Georgia is the only state in the country that uses the most difficult standard of proof in order to meet the legal standard of Intellectual Disability (formerly called ‘mental retardation’), “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” This standard is an extremely difficult legal obstacle to overcome, and Georgia is an outlier in requiring it. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities continue to be executed in Georgia.

[State any additional reasons you support this change here. Include a personal story related to this issue if you have one you are comfortable sharing]

Please get Georgia back on the right side of history and support SB 185.

Sincerely,

[Insert Your Name]

[Insert Your Contact Information]

 

For more information or if you would like to make a Capitol visit, please contact:

Caitlin Childs

Lobbyist and Policy Consultant

PAPE Project Coalition

770-988-5388

Childs.Caitlin@gmail.com

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