By Celia Fisher
The Center for Ethics Education
Originally posted on May 17, 2014
Imagine you are a forensic psychologist asked during the sentencing phase of a capital punishment case to assess the mental status of a homeless, African American defendant convicted of murder. Your evaluation report states that the defendant has an IQ and adaptive living score bordering on a diagnosis of intellectual disability, but the absence of educational and health records from childhood prevents you from definitively stating he fits the Supreme Court’s definition of “mental retardation” which would preclude the jury from recommending the death penalty. Subsequently the defendant is sentenced for execution.
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