Georgia Is Scheduled To Execute An Intellectually Disabled Man Today

Warren Lee Hill

Eleven years ago, the Supreme Court held in Atkins v. Virginia that “death is not a suitable punishment for a mentally retarded criminal.” Yet, despite the fact that a court determined death row inmate Warren Lee Hill to be intellectually disabled in 2002, Hill is scheduled for execution today in the state of Georgia.

Hill’s execution could take place despite the Supreme Court’s decision in Atkins because of an potential loophole in that opinion. Although Atkins forbids executions of the intellectually disabled, it also left “to the State[s] the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon [their] execution of sentences.” Georgia essentially decided to “enforce the constitutional restriction” on the execution of intellectually disabled inmates by creating a standard that makes it nearly impossible for an inmate to prove that they are constitutionally ineligible for execution.

The Supreme Court could still intervene to prevent Georgia from flouting Atkins. If a court does not intervene soon, then Hill is scheduled to be executed at 7pm today.