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(DD-536: dp. 2,940 (f.) 1. 376'6", b. 39'8", dr. 17'9", s. 37 k. cpl. 329; a. 5 5", 10 iOmm., 7 20mm., 10 21" tt., 6 dcp., i dct.; cl. Fletcher)
Owen. (DD-536) was laid down 17 September 1942 by the Bethlehem Steel Corp., San Francisco, Calif., Launched 21 March 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Hope Owen, and commissioned 20 September 1943, Comdr. R. W. Wood in command.
Owen, assigned to DesRon 52, completed shakedown ofl California and training in Hawaii in time to join fast carrier task force 58 for operation "Flintlock." Operating with the carriers throughout most of World War II, she escorted them to their objectives, screened them as they launched dive bombing, straffing, and torpedo attacks; and covered them as
they retired. ,
On 16 January 1944 Owen departed Pearl Harbor for the | Marshalls. Between the 29th and the 3rd of February she screened the carriers of TG 58.2 off Kwajalein, then retired to Majuro. From Majuro her group raided Truk 16 February and then retired briefly to Pearl Harbor, returning to Majuro m mid March.
On the 22nd, the carriers, supported by battleships and cruisers and screened by a ring of destroyers, departed the atoll with Owen in the outer ring of steel. Completing strikes at Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Wolesi, 29 March-1 April, they returned to Majuro, whence they headed for New Guinea. There they supported Army assault forces with raids on Hollandia, Wakde, Sewar and Sarmi, 21-22 April and then struck at Truk, Satawan and Ponape 29 April-1 May. Next the force hit Mareus and Wake Islands, 19-23 May and then prepared for the Marianas campaign.
On 6 June the carrier force again sortied from Majuro. From the 11tt through the 17th, its ships and planes ranged from the Voleanoes and Bonins to the southern most Marianas in support of the assault on Saipan. On the 17th, after sereening the carriers during strikes against Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam, Owen received word of a Japanese fleet enroute from the Philippines. On the 18th, screening continued as she waited. On the 19th, enemy dive bombers opened the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Throughout the two day battle, which permanently crippled the Japanese sea-borne aerial arm, she carried out her protective mission in the screen of Bunker Hill.
Strikes on Pagan Island preceded a brief upkeep at Eniwetok. In July, the force struck Iwo and Chichi Jima, Palau, Ulithi, and Yap. During August there were further operations in the Marianas and against the Bonins. September raids against Palau, Mindanao, Leyte Luzon and Samar in support of the Palau campaign were followed in October by a foray into the East and South China Seas. On the 20th, the force supported amphibious operations on Leyte and Samar.
()wen, forced by boiler trouble to miss the China Seas operations, rejoined the force for the Leyte landings. On the 25th, Owen, temporarily with TG 34.5, sailed to assist TF 77 units which had engaged enemy forces attempting to enter Leyte Gulf. Shortly after midnight, off the eastern end of San Bernadino Strait, an enemy destroyer was taken under fire. After several exchanges, Owen and Miller closed to deliver the final blows. They accomplished their mission in under 20 minutes.
Raids against enemy installations in the Philippines continued into November. On the 25th the force retired to Ulithi, whence it sortied, 11 December, to support amphibious operations on Mindoro. Strikes on Formosa preceded another return to the Philippines in support of amphibious landings, this time in Lingayen Gulf.
Following the Luzon assault, the carrier force's sorties into the South and East China Seas were stepped up. The ships and planes repeatedly blasted installations from Saigon to the Ryukyus and frequently sailed north to raid Japan's industrial heart. On 19-21 February 1945, the force supported the assault in Iwo Jima, then steamed west again to pound the Tokyo plain. By mid-March, an intensified raiding eampaign against the Ryukyus and Japan was well underway, preparing the way for an invasion force.
On the 19th, an enemy dive bomber penetrated the screen to score a direct hit on Franklin. Following rescue operations, Owen was detached, with others, to escort the damaged carrier back to Ulithi.
Owen departed Ulithi 5 April for her last operation. For the next 53 days she screened TG 58.2 as it pronded air cover for forces fighting on Okinawa and raided Kyushu. On 28 May, she departed the intensely disputed Okinawan combat area. Sailing south, she anchored in Leyte Gulf until 20 June when she set a homeward course. She arrived at San Francisco 9 July and was there when the war ended.
Assigned to the 19th (Pacific Reserve) Fleet, Otoen decommissioned 10 December 1946 and was berthed at San Diego. She remained there until reactivated during the Korean Conflict. She recommissioned 17 August 1951, becoming flagship of DesDiv 282, and reported for duty with tbe Atlantic Fleet in Novemher. Cold weather operations in the North Atlantic in early 1952 were followed by overhaul at Charleston and training operations in tbe Caribbean. On 7 January 1953, she sailed, with her division, for the Far East. Steaming via the Panama Canal, she arrived at Sasebo, Japan, 12 February, joined the 7th Fleet, and immediately commenced operations off the embattled Korean peninsula. Owen divided her five months tour with the United Nations Force between the fast carriers (TG 77) and the Bloekade and Eseort Force (TF 95). With the former, her operations were similar to her World War II missions—screening and plane guard. With the latter, she patrolled from Wonsan to Chongjin and acted as flag for the Yong Do and Wonsan Defense and Bloekade Units. Defense of friendly islands coastal patrol, shore bombardment to silence enemy batteries and impede their transport and communications activities, and mine destruction were included in tbese assignments.
On 26 June, Owen departed Sasebo to return to Norfolk via the Suez Canal. Completing her round the world voyage 22 August, she remained on the east coast until January 1954. A 3 month Mediterranean deployment followed, after which she returned to spend the remainder of the year in the western Atlantic.
In January 1965, she was transferred to the Pacific Fleet, arriving at Long Beach on the 26th. On reporting, her division was redesignated DesDiv 192. From 1955 to 1958, the destroyer alternated EastPae training operations and shipyard overhauls with WestPac tours. In December 1957, she returned from her last 7th Fleet deployment and reported for inactivation at Mare Island. She decommissioned 27 May 1958 and was again berthed in California as a unit of the Pacific Reserve Fleet. Into 1970 she remains a unit of that fleet, berthed at Stockton.
Owen earned 9 battlestars during World War II, 2 during the Korean Conflict.
USS Owen (DD 536)
Decommissioned 10 December 1946.
Recommissioned 17 August 1951.
Decommissioned 27 May 1958.
Stricken 15 April 1973.
Sold 27 November 1973 and broken up for scrap.
Commands listed for USS Owen (DD 536)
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|1||T/Cdr. Robert Winthrop Wood, USN||20 Sep 1943||1 Oct 1944|
|2||T/Cdr. Carlton Benton Jones, USN||1 Oct 1944||10 Dec 1946|
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Notable events involving Owen include:
12 Feb 1944
Task Force 58 departed Majuro Atoll for operation HAILSTONE, a raid against the Japanese base at Truk Atoll.
Task Force 58 was made up of the following ships
Task Group 58.1 Aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (Capt. M.B. Gardner, USN), USS Yorktown (Capt. R.E. Jennings, USN), light carrier USS Belleau Wood (Capt. A.M. Pride, USN), light cruisers Santa Fé (Capt. J. Wright, USN), Mobile (Capt. C.J. Wheeler, USN), Biloxi (Capt. D.M. McGurl, USN), USS Oakland (Capt. W.K. Phillips, USN) and the destroyers USS Clarence K. Bronson (Lt.Cdr. J.C. McGoughran, USN), USS Cotten (Cdr. F.T. Sloat, USN), USS Dortch (Cdr. R.C. Young, USN), USS Gatling (Cdr. A.F. Richardson, USN), USS Healy (Cdr. J.C. Atkeson, USN), USS Cogswell (Cdr. H.T. Deutermann, USN), USS Caperton (Cdr. W.J. Miller, USN), USS Ingersoll (Cdr. A.C. Veasey, USN), USS Knapp (Cdr. F. Virden, USN).
Task Group 58.2 Aircraft carriers USS Essex (Capt. R.A. Ofstie, USN), USS Intrepid (Capt. T.L. Sprague, USN), light carrier USS Cabot (Capt. M.F. Schoeffel, USN), heavy cruisers USS Wichita (Capt J.J. Mahoney, USN), USS Baltimore (Capt. W.C. Calhoun, USN), light cruisers USS San Francisco (Capt. H.E. Overesch, USN), USS San Diego (Capt. L.J. Hudson, USN), destroyers USS Owen (Cdr. R.W. Wood, USN), USS Miller (Cdr. T.H. Kobey, USN), USS The Sullivans (Cdr. K.M. Gentry, USN), USS Stephen Potter (Cdr. C.H. Crichton, USN), USS Hickox (Cdr. W.M. Sweetser, USN), USS Hunt (Cdr. H.A. Knoertzer, USN), USS Lewis Hancock (Cdr. C.H. Lyman, 3rd, USN), USS Stembel (Cdr. W.L. Tagg, USN) and USS Stack (Lt.Cdr. R.E. Wheeler, USN).
Task Group 58.3 Aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill (Capt. T.P. Jeter, USN), light carriers USS Monterey (Capt. L.T. Hundt, USN), USS Cowpens (Capt. R.P. McConnell, USN), battleships USS North Carolina (Capt. F.P. Thomas, USN), USS Massachusetts (Capt. T.D. Ruddock, Jr., USN), USS South Dakota (Capt. A.E. Smith, USN), USS Alabama (Capt. F.D. Kirtland, USN), USS Iowa (Capt. J.L. McCrea, USN), USS New Jersey (Capt. C.F. Holden, USN), heavy cruisers USS Minneapolis (Capt. R.W. Bates, USN), USS New Orleans (Capt. S.R. Shumaker, USN), destroyers USS Izard (Cdr. E.K. van Swearingen, USN), USS Charrette (Cdr. E.S. Karpe, USN), USS Conner (Cdr. W.E. Kaitner, USN), USS Bell (Cdr. L.C. Petross, USN), USS Burns (Cdr. D.T. Eller, USN), USS Bradford (Cdr. R.L. Morris, USN), USS Brown (Cdr. T.H. Copeman, USN), USS Cowell (Cdr. C.W. Parker, USN), USS Wilson (Lt.Cdr. C.K. Duncan, USN), USS Sterett (Lt.Cdr. F.J.L. Blouin, USN) and USS Lang (Cdr. H. Payson, Jr., USN).
28 Jul 1944
USS Iowa (Capt. J.L. McCrea, USN) topped off four of the destroyers of the Task Group, USS Hickox (Lt.Cdr. J.H. Wesson, USN), USS Dortch (Cdr. R.C. Young, USN), USS Hunt (Cdr. H.A. Knoertzer, USN) and USS Owen (Cdr. R.W. Wood, USN), with fuel.
25 Oct 1944
USS Iowa (Capt. A.R. McCann, USN) fuelled the destroyers, USS Colahan (Cdr. D.T. Wilber, USN) and USS Tingey (Cdr. J.O. Miner, USN). Upon completion of the fuelling Iowa and other units of the Task Group formed Task Unit 34.5 and proceeded south at high speed (28 knots) towards San Bernardino Strait in the hope of intercepting the enemy force approaching that strait from the southward.
Task Unit 34.5 was made up of battleships USS Iowa (Capt. A.R. McCann, USN), USS New Jersey (Capt. C.F. Holden, USN), light cruisers USS Vincennes (Capt. A.D. Brown, USN), USS Biloxi (Capt. D.M. McGurl, USN), USS Miami (Capt. J.G. Crawford, USN), destroyers USS Miller (Lt.Cdr. D.L. Johnson, USN), USS Owen (Cdr. C.B.Jones, USN), USS Tingey (Cdr. J.O. Miner, USN), USS The Sullivans (Cdr. R.J. Baum, USN) and USS Lewis Hancock (Cdr. W.M. Searles, USN).
26 Oct 1944
USS Iowa (Capt. A.R. McCann, USN) and the Task Group she is part of continued on the south. At 0029 hours the destroyer USS Lewis Hancock (Cdr. W.M. Searles, USN) reported a surface contact. The three light cruisers closed this contact and opened fire on it. The contact turned out to be the Japanese destroyer Nowaki which was sunk by the light cruisers USS Vincennes (Capt. A.D. Brown, USN), USS Miami (Capt. J.G. Crawford, USN), USS Biloxi (Capt. D.M. McGurl, USN) and the destroyers USS Owen (Cdr. C.B.Jones, USN) and USS Miller (Lt.Cdr. D.L. Johnson, USN).
23 Dec 1944
USS Iowa (Capt. J.L. Holloway, Jr., USN) developed excessive vibration in no.3 shaft. Course was set for Ulithi for inspection of the damage. Iowa was escorted by the destroyers USS Owen (Cdr. C.B.Jones, USN) and USS Tingey (Cdr. J.O. Miner, USN) towards Ulithi.
On 16 January 1944 Owen departed Pearl Harbor for the Marshalls. Between 29 January and 3 February she screened the carriers of Task Group 58.2 off Kwajalein, then retired to Majuro. From Majuro her group raided Truk 16 February and then retired briefly to Pearl Harbor, returning to Majuro in mid-March.
On 22 March, the carriers, supported by battleships and cruisers and screened by a ring of destroyers, departed the atoll with Owen in the outer ring of steel. Completing strikes at Palau, Yap, Ulithi, and Woleai, 29 March – 1 April, they returned to Majuro, whence they headed for New Guinea. There they supported Army assault forces with raids on Hollandia, Wakde, Sewar and Sarmi, 21 April – 22 April and then struck at Truk, Satawan and Ponape 29 April – 1 May. Next the force hit Marcus and Wake Islands, 19 May – 23 May and then prepared for the Marianas campaign.
On 6 June, the carrier force again sortied from Majuro. From 11 May through 17 May, its ships and planes ranged from the Volcanoes and Bonins to the southern most Marianas in support of the assault on Saipan. On the 17th, after screening the carriers during strikes against Saipan, Tinian, Rota and Guam, Owen received word of a Japanese fleet en route from the Philippines. On 18 May, screening continued as she waited. On 19 May, enemy dive bombers opened the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Throughout the two day battle, which permanently crippled the Japanese sea-borne aerial arm, she carried out her protective mission in the screen of Bunker Hill.
Strikes on Pagan Island preceded a brief upkeep at Eniwetok. In July, the force struck Iwo Jima and Chichi Jima, Palau, Ulithi, and Yap. During August there were further operations in the Marianas and against the Bonins. September raids against Palau, Mindanao, Leyte, Luzon and Samar in support of the Palau campaign were followed in October by a foray into the East and South China Seas. On 20 October, the force supported amphibious operations on Leyte and Samar.
Owen, forced by boiler trouble to miss the China Seas operations, rejoined the force for the Leyte landings. On 25 October, Owen, temporarily with TG㺢.5, sailed to assist TF㻍 units which had engaged enemy forces attempting to enter Leyte Gulf. Shortly after midnight, off the eastern end of San Bernardino Strait, an enemy destroyer, Nowaki, was taken under fire. After several exchanges, Owen and Miller closed to deliver the final blows. They accomplished their mission in under 20 minutes. Nowaki was sunk with the loss of all hands and also those survivors of the IJN Cruiser Chikuma who were picked up a day before.
Raids against enemy installations in the Philippines continued into November. On 25 November the force retired to Ulithi, whence it sortied, 11 December, to support amphibious operations on Mindoro. Strikes on Formosa preceded another return to the Philippines in support of amphibious landings, this time in Lingayen Gulf.
USS Owen DD-536 (1943-1973)
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Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002)
Daryl Atkins kidnapped an Air Force serviceman, Eric Nesbitt, at a convenience store and stole $60 from his wallet. He also forced Nesbitt to withdraw $200 from an ATM, but this money was not enough for Atkins and accomplice William Jones. They took Nesbitt to an isolated location and killed him by shooting him eight times. When Atkins and Jones were arrested and questioned, law enforcement noticed that Atkins' testimony was not entirely plausible. They also received information from another prisoner that Atkins had confessed to the murder. The prosecution persuaded Jones to testify against Atkins in exchange for dropping the death penalty charges against him.
Atkins was convicted of murder and sentenced to death despite the defense's argument that he was mildly mentally retarded. Evidence from a psychologist revealed that he had an IQ of 59, which is well below the normal range. The sentence was initially overturned due to a procedural error, and the prosecution used its own psychological expert at the retrial. This expert claimed that Atkins had average intelligence, judging by a more subjective analysis than the IQ test. The prosecution also persuaded the jury that he posed a risk of future dangerousness based on a record of violent crimes and that the manner of the crime was particularly vile, both of which are aggravating factors that can support a death sentence. Atkins was sentenced to death again, and the Virginia Supreme Court sustained the sentence this time.
The U.S Supreme Court chose to review the case because the 1989 precedent on which the Virginia Supreme Court based its reasoning was arguably outdated. Since that time, a consensus had developed among state legislatures that the death penalty was not appropriate for mentally retarded individuals.
- John Paul Stevens (Author)
- Sandra Day O'Connor
- Anthony M. Kennedy
- David H. Souter
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg
- Stephen G. Breyer
The majority referred back to precedents such as Coker v. Georgia in which it had struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional in situations when a national consensus against it had developed in state legislatures. As with defendants convicted of crimes other than murder, defendants who were mentally retarded had come to be viewed as unsuitable candidates for the death penalty. This had not been the situation in 1989 when the Court decided Penry v. Lynaugh, at which point only two states and the federal government held that view. However, 19 of the 29 remaining states that retain the death penalty had banned its use against mentally retarded individuals during the intervening time.
A consensus thus appeared to have emerged that imposing the death penalty on mentally retarded defendants was cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. This was logical because it did not fulfill the objectives of retribution and deterrence, since people with mental deficiencies are less likely to understand why they are being punished in a certain way or to take lessons from how others in similar situations are punished. The majority also noted that these individuals are less likely to seem sympathetic because of their communicative deficiencies and cognitive isolation from those around them. As a result, they are at greater risk for receiving the death penalty from a jury that may misinterpret their demeanor and reactions.
However, the majority noted that states are free to set the definition of a mentally retarded individual as they see fit, which still gives them some control over who may be eligible for the death penalty.
Rehnquist was skeptical that the consensus alleged by the majority actually had developed, since a meaningful number of states retained the death penalty for mentally retarded defendants. Moreover, he saw public opinion as an inappropriate measure of constitutional norms. Rehnquist criticized the majority for consulting parallel laws in the European Union, since he felt that no social norms outside the United States should be relevant to the inquiry.
In addition to supporting Rehnquist's arguments, Scalia accused the majority of basing its decision largely on its personal viewpoints rather than legal doctrine.
A national consensus against a certain practice in sentencing or punishment can be inferred when most states have abandoned it. Here, even states that still technically permitted the execution of retarded defendants rarely carried them out. This case was part of the Court's progression from Gregg v. Georgia to Kennedy v. Louisiana, during which it gradually narrowed the groups of defendants who could be eligible for the death penalty. While it shrank from declaring capital punishment unconstitutional per se, the Court's discomfort with applying it broadly has emerged from a series of decisions eliminating it in a variety of special contexts, ranging from the mentally retarded to defendants convicted of crimes other than murder and participants in felony murder.
On remand, Atkins again was sentenced to death when a jury found that his IQ had improved and that he was now mentally competent. The execution was stayed, however, and later allegations of prosecutorial misconduct caused a judge reviewing the case to commute his sentence to life imprisonment despite the compelling evidence against him. (This was a bizarre turn of events, since the normal course of action would have been to either uphold the sentence or remand for a completely new trial, but the Virginia Supreme Court found that the prosecution had no recourse to challenge the judge's decision.)
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA No. 00-8452. Argued February 20, 2002-Decided June 20, 2002
Petitioner Atkins was convicted of capital murder and related crimes by a Virginia jury and sentenced to death. Affirming, the Virginia Supreme Court relied on Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302, in rejecting Atkins' contention that he could not be sentenced to death because he is mentally retarded.
Held: Executions of mentally retarded criminals are "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. Pp. 311-321.
(a) A punishment is "excessive," and therefore prohibited by the Amendment, if it is not graduated and proportioned to the offense. E. g., Weems v. United States, 217 U. S. 349, 367. An excessiveness claim is judged by currently prevailing standards of decency. Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86,100-101. Proportionality review under such evolving standards should be informed by objective factors to the maximum possible extent, see, e. g., Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 1000, the clearest and most reliable of which is the legislation enacted by the country's legislatures, Penry, 492 U. S., at 331. In addition to objective evidence, the Constitution contemplates that this Court will bring its own judgment to bear by asking whether there is reason to agree or disagree with the judgment reached by the citizenry and its legislators,
(b) Much has changed since Penry's conclusion that the two state statutes then existing that prohibited such executions, even when added to the 14 States that had rejected capital punishment completely, did not provide sufficient evidence of a consensus. 492 U. S., at 334. Subsequently, a significant number of States have concluded that death is not a suitable punishment for a mentally retarded criminal, and similar bills have passed at least one house in other States. It is not so much the number of these States that is significant, but the consistency of the direction of change. Given that anticrime legislation is far more popular than legislation protecting violent criminals, the large number of States prohibiting the execution of mentally retarded persons (and the complete absence of legislation reinstating such executions) provides powerful evidence that today society views mentally retarded offenders as categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The evidence carries even greater force when it is noted that the legislatures addressing the issue have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the prohibition.
Moreover, even in States allowing the execution of mentally retarded offenders, the practice is uncommon. Pp. 313-317.
(c) An independent evaluation of the issue reveals no reason for the Court to disagree with the legislative consensus. Clinical definitions of mental retardation require not only subaverage intellectual functioning, but also significant limitations in adaptive skills. Mentally retarded persons frequently know the difference between right and wrong and are competent to stand trial, but, by definition, they have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand others' reactions. Their deficiencies do not warrant an exemption from criminal sanctions, but diminish their personal culpability. In light of these deficiencies, the Court's death penalty jurisprudence provides two reasons to agree with the legislative consensus. First, there is a serious question whether either justification underpinning the death penalty-retribution and deterrence of capital crimes-applies to mentally retarded offenders. As to retribution, the severity of the appropriate punishment necessarily depends on the offender's culpability. If the culpability of the average murderer is insufficient to justify imposition of death, see Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, 433, the lesser culpability of the mentally retarded offender surely does not merit that form of retribution. As to deterrence, the same cognitive and behavioral impairments that make mentally retarded defendants less morally culpable also make it less likely that they can process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and, as a result, control their conduct based upon that information. Nor will exempting the mentally retarded from execution lessen the death penalty's deterrent effect with respect to offenders who are not mentally retarded. Second, mentally retarded defendants in the aggregate face a special risk of wrongful execution because of the possibility that they will unwittingly confess to crimes they did not commit, their lesser ability to give their counsel meaningful assistance, and the facts that they are typically poor witnesses and that their demeanor may create an unwarranted impression of lack of remorse for their crimes. Pp. 317-321.
260 Va. 375, 534 S. E. 2d 312, reversed and remanded.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'CONNOR, KENNEDY, SOUTER, GINSBURG, and BREYER, JJ., joined. REHNQUIST, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which SCALIA and THOMAS, JJ., joined, post, p. 321. SCALIA, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C. J., and THOMAS, J., joined, post, p. 337.
CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF VIRGINIA No. 00-8452. Argued February 20, 2002-Decided June 20, 2002
JUSTICE STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.
Those mentally retarded persons who meet the law's requirements for criminal responsibility should be tried and
punished when they commit crimes. Because of their disabilities in areas of reasoning, judgment, and control of their impulses, however, they do not act with the level of moral culpability that characterizes the most serious adult criminal conduct. Moreover, their impairments can jeopardize the
reliability and fairness of capital proceedings against mentally retarded defendants. Presumably for these reasons, in the 13 years since we decided Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302 (1989), the American public, legislators, scholars, and judges have deliberated over the question whether the death penalty should ever be imposed on a mentally retarded criminal. The consensus reflected in those deliberations informs our answer to the question presented by this case: whether such executions are "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the Federal Constitution.
Petitioner, Daryl Renard Atkins, was convicted of abduction, armed robbery, and capital murder, and sentenced to death. At approximately midnight on August 16, 1996, Atkins and William Jones, armed with a semiautomatic handgun, abducted Eric Nesbitt, robbed him of the money on his person, drove him to an automated teller machine in his pickup truck where cameras recorded their withdrawal of additional cash, then took him to an isolated location where he was shot eight times and killed.
Jones and Atkins both testified in the guilt phase of Atkins' trial.[Footnote 1] Each confirmed most of the details in the other's account of the incident, with the important exception that each stated that the other had actually shot and killed Nesbitt. Jones' testimony, which was both more coherent and credible than Atkins', was obviously credited by the jury and was sufficient to establish Atkins' guilt.[Footnote 2] At the penalty
phase of the trial, the State introduced victim impact evidence and proved two aggravating circumstances: future dangerousness and "vileness of the offense." To prove future dangerousness, the State relied on Atkins' prior felony convictions as well as the testimony of four victims of earlier robberies and assaults. To prove the second aggravator, the prosecution relied upon the trial record, including pictures of the deceased's body and the autopsy report.
In the penalty phase, the defense relied on one witness, Dr. Evan Nelson, a forensic psychologist who had evaluated Atkins before trial and concluded that he was "mildly mentally retarded."[Footnote 3] His conclusion was based on interviews with people who knew Atkins,[Footnote 4] a review of school and court
records, and the administration of a standard intelligence test which indicated that Atkins had a full scale IQ of 59.[Footnote 5]
The jury sentenced Atkins to death, but the Virginia Supreme Court ordered a second sentencing hearing because the trial court had used a misleading verdict form. 257 Va. 160,510 S. E. 2d 445 (1999). At the resentencing, Dr. Nelson again testified. The State presented an expert rebuttal witness, Dr. Stanton Same now, who expressed the opinion that Atkins was not mentally retarded, but rather was of "average intelligence, at least," and diagnosable as having antisocial personality disorder.[Footnote 6] App.476. The jury again sentenced Atkins to death.
The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed the imposition of the death penalty. 260 Va. 375, 385, 534 S. E. 2d 312, 318 (2000). Atkins did not argue before the Virginia Supreme Court that his sentence was disproportionate to penalties imposed for similar crimes in Virginia, but he did contend "that he is mentally retarded and thus cannot be sentenced to death." Id., at 386, 534 S. E. 2d, at 318. The majority of the state court rejected this contention, relying on our holding in Penry. 260 Va., at 387, 534 S. E. 2d, at 319. The court was "not willing to commute Atkins' sentence of death to life imprisonment merely because of his IQ score." Id., at 390, 534 S. E. 2d, at 321.
Justice Hassell and Justice Koontz dissented. They rejected Dr. Samenow's opinion that Atkins possesses average intelligence as "incredulous as a matter of law," and concluded that "the imposition of the sentence of death upon a criminal defendant who has the mental age of a child between the ages of 9 and 12 is excessive." Id., at 394, 395-396, 534 S. E. 2d, at 323-324. In their opinion, "it is indefensible to conclude that individuals who are mentally retarded are not to some degree less culpable for their criminal acts. By definition, such individuals have substantial limitations not shared by the general population. A moral and civilized society diminishes itself if its system of justice does not afford recognition and consideration of those limitations in a meaningful way." Id., at 397, 534 S. E. 2d, at 325.
Because of the gravity of the concerns expressed by the dissenters, and in light of the dramatic shift in the state legislative landscape that has occurred in the past 13 years, we granted certiorari to revisit the issue that we first addressed in the Penry case. 533 U. S. 976 (2001).
The Eighth Amendment succinctly prohibits "[e]xcessive" sanctions. It provides: "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." In Weems v. United States, 217 U. S. 349 (1910), we held that a punishment of 12 years jailed in irons at hard and painful labor for the crime of falsifying records was excessive. We explained "that it is a precept of justice that punishment for crime should be graduated and proportioned to [the] offense." Id., at 367. We have repeatedly applied this proportionality precept in later cases interpreting the Eighth Amendment. See Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 997-998 (1991) (KENNEDY, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment) see also id., at 1009-1011 (White, J., dissenting).[Footnote 7] Thus, even though "imprisonment for ninety days is not, in the abstract, a punishment which is either cruel or unusual," it may not be imposed as a penalty for "the 'status' of narcotic addiction," Robinson v. California, 370 U. S. 660, 666-667 (1962), because such a sanction would be excessive. As Justice Stewart explained in Robinson: "Even one day in prison would be a cruel and unusual punishment for the 'crime' of having a common cold." Id., at 667.
A claim that punishment is excessive is judged not by the standards that prevailed in 1685 when Lord Jeffreys presided over the "Bloody Assizes" or when the Bill of Rights was adopted, but rather by those that currently prevail. As Chief Justice Warren explained in his opinion in Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86 (1958): "The basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment is nothing less than the dignity of man . . . . The Amendment must draw its meaning from the
evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." Id., at 100-101.
Proportionality review under those evolving standards should be informed by "'objective factors to the maximum possible extent,'" see Harmelin, 501 U. S., at 1000 (quoting Rummel v. Estelle, 445 U. S. 263, 274-275 (1980)). We have pinpointed that the "clearest and most reliable objective evidence of contemporary values is the legislation enacted by the country's legislatures." Penry, 492 U. S., at 331. Relying in part on such legislative evidence, we have held that death is an impermissibly excessive punishment for the rape of an adult woman, Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584, 593-596 (1977), or for a defendant who neither took life, attempted to take life, nor intended to take life, Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782, 789-793 (1982). In Coker, we focused primarily on the then-recent legislation that had been enacted in response to our decision 10 years earlier in Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238 (1972) (per curiam), to support the conclusion that the "current judgment," though "not wholly unanimous," weighed very heavily on the side of rejecting capital punishment as a "suitable penalty for raping an adult woman." Coker, 433 U. S., at 596. The "current legislative judgment" relevant to our decision in Enmund was less clear than in Coker but "nevertheless weigh[ed] on the side of rejecting capital punishment for the crime at issue." Enmund, 458 U. S., at 793.
We also acknowledged in Coker that the objective evidence, though of great importance, did not "wholly determine" the controversy, "for the Constitution contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment." 433 U. S., at 597. For example, in Enmund, we concluded by expressing our own judgment about the issue:
"For purposes of imposing the death penalty, Enmund's criminal culpability must be limited to his participation
in the robbery, and his punishment must be tailored to his personal responsibility and moral guilt. Putting Enmund to death to avenge two killings that he did not commit and had no intention of committing or causing does not measurably contribute to the retributive end of ensuring that the criminal gets his just deserts. This is the judgment of most of the legislatures that have recently addressed the matter, and we have no reason to disagree with that judgment for purposes of construing and applying the Eighth Amendment." 458 U. S., at 801 (emphasis added).
Thus, in cases involving a consensus, our own judgment is "brought to bear," Coker, 433 U. S., at 597, by asking whether there is reason to disagree with the judgment reached by the citizenry and its legislators.
Guided by our approach in these cases, we shall first review the judgment of legislatures that have addressed the suitability of imposing the death penalty on the mentally retarded and then consider reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with their judgment.
The parties have not called our attention to any state legislative consideration of the suitability of imposing the death penalty on mentally retarded offenders prior to 1986. In that year, the public reaction to the execution of a mentally retarded murderer in Georgia[Footnote 8] apparently led to the enact-
ment of the first state statute prohibiting such executions.[Footnote 9] In 1988, when Congress enacted legislation reinstating the federal death penalty, it expressly provided that a "sentence of death shall not be carried out upon a person who is mentally retarded."[Footnote 10] In 1989, Maryland enacted a similar prohibition.[Footnote 11] It was in that year that we decided Penry, and concluded that those two state enactments, "even when added to the 14 States that have rejected capital punishment completely, do not provide sufficient evidence at present of a national consensus." 492 U. S., at 334.
Much has changed since then. Responding to the national attention received by the Bowden execution and our decision in Penry, state legislatures across the country began to address the issue. In 1990, Kentucky and Tennessee enacted statutes similar to those in Georgia and Maryland, as did New Mexico in 1991, and Arkansas, Colorado, Washington, Indiana, and Kansas in 1993 and 1994.[Footnote 12] In 1995, when New York reinstated its death penalty, it emulated the Federal Government by expressly exempting the mentally retarded.[Footnote 13] Nebraska followed suit in 1998.[Footnote 14] There appear
to have been no similar enactments during the next two years, but in 2000 and 2001 six more States--South Dakota, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Missouri, and North Carolina--joined the procession.[Footnote 15] The Texas Legislature unanimously adopted a similar bill,[Footnote 16] and bills have passed at least one house in other States, including Virginia and Nevada.[Footnote 17]
It is not so much the number of these States that is significant, but the consistency of the direction of change.[Footnote 18] Given the well-known fact that anticrime legislation is far more popular than legislation providing protections for persons guilty of violent crime, the large number of States prohibiting the execution of mentally retarded persons (and the
complete absence of States passing legislation reinstating the power to conduct such executions) provides powerful evidence that today our society views mentally retarded offenders as categorically less culpable than the average criminal. The evidence carries even greater force when it is noted that the legislatures that have addressed the issue have voted overwhelmingly in favor of the prohibition.[Footnote 19] Moreover, even in those States that allow the execution of mentally retarded offenders, the practice is uncommon. Some States, for example New Hampshire and New Jersey, continue to authorize executions, but none have been carried out in decades. Thus there is little need to pursue legislation barring the execution of the mentally retarded in those States. And it appears that even among those States that regularly execute offenders and that have no prohibition with regard to the mentally retarded, only five have executed offenders possessing a known IQ less than 70 since we decided Penry.[Footnote 20] The practice, therefore, has become truly unusual, and it is fair to say that a national consensus has developed against it.[Footnote 21]
To the extent there is serious disagreement about the execution of mentally retarded offenders, it is in determining which offenders are in fact retarded. In this case, for instance, the Commonwealth of Virginia disputes that Atkins suffers from mental retardation. Not all people who claim to be mentally retarded will be so impaired as to fall within the range of mentally retarded offenders about whom there is a national consensus. As was our approach in Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U. S. 399 (1986), with regard to insanity, "we leave to the State[s] the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon [their] execution of sentences." Id., at 405, 416-417.[Footnote 22]
This consensus unquestionably reflects widespread judgment about the relative culpability of mentally retarded offenders, and the relationship between mental retardation and the penological purposes served by the death penalty. Additionally, it suggests that some characteristics of mental retardation undermine the strength of the procedural protections that our capital jurisprudence steadfastly guards.
As discussed above, clinical definitions of mental retardation require not only subaverage intellectual functioning, but also significant limitations in adaptive skills such as communication, self-care, and self-direction that became manifest before age 18. Mentally retarded persons frequently know the difference between right and wrong and are competent to stand trial. Because of their impairments, however, by definition they have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others.[Footnote 23] There is no evidence that they are more likely to engage in criminal conduct than others, but there is abundant evidence that they often act on impulse rather than pursuant to a premeditated plan, and that in group settings they are followers rather than leaders.[Footnote 24] Their deficiencies do not warrant an exemption from criminal sanctions, but they do diminish their personal culpability.
In light of these deficiencies, our death penalty jurisprudence provides two reasons consistent with the legislative consensus that the mentally retarded should be categorically excluded from execution. First, there is a serious question as to whether either justification that we have recognized as
a basis for the death penalty applies to mentally retarded offenders. Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 183 (1976) (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.), identified "retribution and deterrence of capital crimes by prospective offenders" as the social purposes served by the death penalty. Unless the imposition of the death penalty on a mentally retarded person "measurably contributes to one or both of these goals, it 'is nothing more than the purposeless and needless imposition of pain and suffering,' and hence an unconstitutional punishment." Enmund, 458 U. S., at 798.
With respect to retribution--the interest in seeing that the offender gets his "just deserts"--the severity of the appropriate punishment necessarily depends on the culpability of the offender. Since Gregg, our jurisprudence has consistently confined the imposition of the death penalty to a narrow category of the most serious crimes. For example, in Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420 (1980), we set aside a death sentence because the petitioner's crimes did not reflect "a consciousness materially more 'depraved' than that of any person guilty of murder." Id., at 433. If the culpability of the average murderer is insufficient to justify the most extreme sanction available to the State, the lesser culpability of the mentally retarded offender surely does not merit that form of retribution. Thus, pursuant to our narrowing jurisprudence, which seeks to ensure that only the most deserving of execution are put to death, an exclusion for the mentally retarded is appropriate.
With respect to deterrence--the interest in preventing capital crimes by prospective offenders--"it seems likely that 'capital punishment can serve as a deterrent only when murder is the result of premeditation and deliberation,'" Enmund, 458 U. S., at 799. Exempting the mentally retarded from that punishment will not affect the "cold calculus that precedes the decision" of other potential murderers. Gregg, 428 U. S., at 186. Indeed, that sort of calculus is at the opposite end of the spectrum from behavior of mentally retarded
offenders. The theory of deterrence in capital sentencing is predicated upon the notion that the increased severity of the punishment will inhibit criminal actors from carrying out murderous conduct. Yet it is the same cognitive and behavioral impairments that make these defendants less morally culpable--for example, the diminished ability to understand and process information, to learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, or to control impulses--that also make it less likely that they can process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and, as a result, control their conduct based upon that information. Nor will exempting the mentally retarded from execution lessen the deterrent effect of the death penalty with respect to offenders who are not mentally retarded. Such individuals are unprotected by the exemption and will continue to face the threat of execution. Thus, executing the mentally retarded will not measurably further the goal of deterrence.
The reduced capacity of mentally retarded offenders provides a second justification for a categorical rule making such offenders ineligible for the death penalty. The risk "that the death penalty will be imposed in spite of factors which may call for a less severe penalty," Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U. S. 586, 605 (1978), is enhanced, not only by the possibility of false confessions,[Footnote 25] but also by the lesser ability of mentally retarded defendants to make a persuasive showing of mitigation in the face of prosecutorial evidence of one or more aggravating factors. Mentally retarded defendants may be less able to give meaningful assistance to their counsel and
are typically poor witnesses, and their demeanor may create an unwarranted impression of lack of remorse for their crimes. As Penry demonstrated, moreover, reliance on mental retardation as a mitigating factor can be a two-edged sword that may enhance the likelihood that the aggravating factor of future dangerousness will be found by the jury. 492 U. S., at 323-325. Mentally retarded defendants in the aggregate face a special risk of wrongful execution.
Our independent evaluation of the issue reveals no reason to disagree with the judgment of "the legislatures that have recently addressed the matter" and concluded that death is not a suitable punishment for a mentally retarded criminal. We are not persuaded that the execution of mentally retarded criminals will measurably advance the deterrent or the retributive purpose of the death penalty. Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our "evolving standards of decency," we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution "places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life" of a mentally retarded offender. Ford, 477 U. S., at 405.
The judgment of the Virginia Supreme Court is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.
The question presented by this case is whether a national consensus deprives Virginia of the constitutional power to impose the death penalty on capital murder defendants like petitioner, i. e., those defendants who indisputably are competent to stand trial, aware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why, and whose mental retardation has been found an insufficiently compelling reason to lessen their individual responsibility for the crime. The Court pronounces
the punishment cruel and unusual primarily because 18 States recently have passed laws limiting the death eligibility of certain defendants based on mental retardation alone, despite the fact that the laws of 19 other States besides Virginia continue to leave the question of proper punishment to the individuated consideration of sentencing judges or juries familiar with the particular offender and his or her crime. See ante, at 314-315.
I agree with JUSTICE SCALIA, post, at 337-338 (dissenting opinion), that the Court's assessment of the current legislative judgment regarding the execution of defendants like petitioner more resembles a post hoc rationalization for the majority's subjectively preferred result rather than any objective effort to ascertain the content of an evolving standard of decency. I write separately, however, to call attention to the defects in the Court's decision to place weight on foreign laws, the views of professional and religious organizations, and opinion polls in reaching its conclusion. See ante, at 316-317, n. 21. The Court's suggestion that these sources are relevant to the constitutional question finds little support in our precedents and, in my view, is antithetical to considerations of federalism, which instruct that any "permanent prohibition upon all units of democratic government must [be apparent] in the operative acts (laws and the application of laws) that the people have approved." Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U. S. 361, 377 (1989) (plurality opinion). The Court's uncritical acceptance of the opinion poll data brought to our attention, moreover, warrants additional comment, because we lack sufficient information to conclude that the surveys were conducted in accordance with generally accepted scientific principles or are capable of supporting valid empirical inferences about the issue before us.
In making determinations about whether a punishment is "cruel and unusual" under the evolving standards of decency embraced by the Eighth Amendment, we have emphasized that legislation is the "clearest and most reliable objective
evidence of contemporary values." Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302, 331 (1989). See also McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U. S. 279, 300 (1987). The reason we ascribe primacy to legislative enactments follows from the constitutional role legislatures play in expressing policy of a State. "'[I]n a democratic society legislatures, not courts, are constituted to respond to the will and consequently the moral values of the people.' " Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 175-176 (1976) (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.) (quoting Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238, 383 (1972) (Burger, C. J., dissenting)). And because the specifications of punishments are "peculiarly questions of legislative policy," Gore v. United States, 357 U. S. 386, 393 (1958), our cases have cautioned against using" 'the aegis of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause'" to cut off the normal democratic processes, Gregg, supra, at 176 (quoting Powell v. Texas, 392 U. S. 514, 533 (1968) (plurality opinion)).
Our opinions have also recognized that data concerning the actions of sentencing juries, though entitled to less weight than legislative judgments, "'is a significant and reliable objective index of contemporary values,'" Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584, 596 (1977) (plurality opinion) (quoting Gregg, supra, at 181), because of the jury's intimate involvement in the case and its function of "'maintain[ing] a link between contemporary community values and the penal system,'" Gregg, supra, at 181 (quoting Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U. S. 510, 519, n. 15 (1968)). In Coker, supra, at 596-597, for example, we credited data showing that "at least 9 out of 10" juries in Georgia did not impose the death sentence for rape convictions. And in Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782, 793-794 (1982), where evidence of the current legislative judgment was not as "compelling" as that in Coker (but more so than that here), we were persuaded by "overwhelming [evidence] that American juries . . . repudiated imposition of the death penalty" for a defendant who neither took life nor attempted or intended to take life.
In my view, these two sources--the work product of legislatures and sentencing jury determinations--ought to be the sole indicators by which courts ascertain the contemporary American conceptions of decency for purposes of the Eighth Amendment. They are the only objective indicia of contemporary values firmly supported by our precedents. More importantly, however, they can be reconciled with the undeniable precepts that the democratic branches of government and individual sentencing juries are, by design, better suited than courts to evaluating and giving effect to the complex societal and moral considerations that inform the selection of publicly acceptable criminal punishments.
In reaching its conclusion today, the Court does not take notice of the fact that neither petitioner nor his amici have adduced any comprehensive statistics that would conclusively prove (or disprove) whether juries routinely consider death a disproportionate punishment for mentally retarded offenders like petitioner.[Footnote *] Instead, it adverts to the fact that other countries have disapproved imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders, see ante, at 316-317, n. 21 (citing the Brief for European Union as Amicus Curiae 2). I fail to see, how-
ever, how the views of other countries regarding the punishment of their citizens provide any support for the Court's ultimate determination. While it is true that some of our prior opinions have looked to "the climate of international opinion," Coker, supra, at 596, n. 10, to reinforce a conclusion regarding evolving standards of decency, see Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S. 815, 830 (1988) (plurality opinion) Enmund, supra, at 796-797, n. 22 Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86, 102-103 (1958) (plurality opinion) we have since explicitly rejected the idea that the sentencing practices of other countries could "serve to establish the first Eighth Amendment prerequisite, that [a] practice is accepted among our people." Stanford, 492 U. S., at 369, n. 1 (emphasizing that "American conceptions of decency . . . are dispositive" (emphasis in original)).
Stanford's reasoning makes perfectly good sense, and the Court offers no basis to question it. For if it is evidence of a national consensus for which we are looking, then the viewpoints of other countries simply are not relevant. And nothing in Thompson, Enmund, Coker, or Trop suggests otherwise. Thompson, Enmund, and Coker rely only on the bare citation of international laws by the Trop plurality as authority to deem other countries' sentencing choices germane. But the Trop plurality--representing the view of only a minority of the Court--offered no explanation for its own citation, and there is no reason to resurrect this view given our sound rejection of the argument in Stanford.
To further buttress its appraisal of contemporary societal values, the Court marshals public opinion poll results and evidence that several professional organizations and religious groups have adopted official positions opposing the imposition of the death penalty upon mentally retarded offenders. See ante, at 316-317, n. 21 (citing Brief for American Psychological Association et al. as Amici Curiae Brief for American Association on Mental Retardation et al. as Amici Curiae noting that "representatives of widely diverse reli-
gious communities . . . reflecting Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions . . . 'share a conviction that the execution of persons with mental retardation cannot be morally justified' " and stating that "polling data shows a widespread consensus among Americans . . . that executing the mentally retarded is wrong"). In my view, none should be accorded any weight on the Eighth Amendment scale when the elected representatives of a State's populace have not deemed them persuasive enough to prompt legislative action. In Penry, 492 U. S., at 334-335, we were cited similar data and declined to take them into consideration where the "public sentiment expressed in [them]" had yet to find expression in state law. See also Stanford, 492 U. S., at 377 (plurality opinion) (refusing "the invitation to rest constitutional law upon such uncertain foundations" as "public opinion polls, the views of interest groups, and the positions adopted by various professional associations"). For the Court to rely on such data today serves only to illustrate its willingness to proscribe by judicial fiat--at the behest of private organizations speaking only for themselves--a punishment about which no across-the-board consensus has developed through the workings of normal democratic processes in the laboratories of the States.
Even if I were to accept the legitimacy of the Court's decision to reach beyond the product of legislatures and practices of sentencing juries to discern a national standard of decency, I would take issue with the blind-faith credence it accords the opinion polls brought to our attention. An extensive body of social science literature describes how methodological and other errors can affect the reliability and validity of estimates about the opinions and attitudes of a population derived from various sampling techniques. Everything from variations in the survey methodology, such as the choice of the target population, the sampling design used, the questions asked, and the statistical analyses used to interpret the data can skew the results. See, e. g., R. Groves, Survey
Errors and Survey Costs (1989) 1 C. Turner & E. Martin, Surveying Subjective Phenomena (1984).
The Federal Judicial Center's Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence 221-271 (1994) and its Manual for Complex Litigation 21.493, pp. 101-103 (3d ed. 1995), offer helpful suggestions to judges called upon to assess the weight and admissibility of survey evidence on a factual issue before a court. Looking at the polling data (reproduced in the Appendix to this opinion) in light of these factors, one cannot help but observe how unlikely it is that the data could support a valid inference about the question presented by this case. For example, the questions reported to have been asked in the various polls do not appear designed to gauge whether the respondents might find the death penalty an acceptable punishment for mentally retarded offenders in rare cases. Most are categorical (e. g., "Do you think that persons convicted of murder who are mentally retarded should or should not receive the death penalty?"), and, as such, would not elicit whether the respondent might agree or disagree that all mentally retarded people by definition can never act with the level of culpability associated with the death penalty, regardless of the severity of their impairment or the individual circumstances of their crime. Second, none of the 27 polls cited disclose the targeted survey population or the sampling techniques used by those who conducted the research. Thus, even if one accepts that the survey instruments were adequately designed to address a relevant question, it is impossible to know whether the sample was representative enough or the methodology sufficiently sound to tell us anything about the opinions of the citizens of a particular State or the American public at large. Finally, the information provided to us does not indicate why a particular survey was conducted or, in a few cases, by whom, factors which also can bear on the objectivity of the results. In order to be credited here, such surveys should be offered as
Appendix to opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.
evidence at trial, where their sponsors can be examined and cross-examined about these matters.
There are strong reasons for limiting our inquiry into what constitutes an evolving standard of decency under the Eighth Amendment to the laws passed by legislatures and the practices of sentencing juries in America. Here, the Court goes beyond these well-established objective indicators of contemporary values. It finds "further support to [its] conclusion" that a national consensus has developed against imposing the death penalty on all mentally retarded defendants in international opinion, the views of professional and religious organizations, and opinion polls not demonstrated to be reliable. Ante, at 317, n. 21. Believing this view to be seriously mistaken, I dissent.
APPENDIX TO OPINION OF REHNQUIST, C. J.
Poll and survey results reported in Brief for American Association on Mental Retardation et al. as Amici Curiae 3a-7a, and cited by the Court, ante, at 317, n. 21:
|AR||Arkansans? Opinion on the Death Penalty, Opinion Research Associates, Inc., Q. 13 (July 1992) John DiPippa, Will Fairchild s Death Violate the Constitution, or Simply Our Morality?, Arkansas Forum, Sept. 1993||1992||61% never appropriate 17% is appropriate 5% opposed to all executions 17% undecided||"Some people say that there is nothing wrong with executing a person who is mentally retarded. Others say that the death penalty should never be imposed on a person who is mentally retarded. Which of these positions comes closest to your own"|
Appendix to opinion of Rehnquist, C. J.
|AZ||Behavior Research Center, Survey 2000, Q. 3 (July 2000)||2000||71% oppose 12% favor 11% depends 6% ref/unsure||"For persons convicted of murder, do you favor or oppose use of the death penalty when the defendant is mentally retarded"|
|CA||Field Research Corp., California Death Penalty Survey, Q. 22 (Dec. 1989) Frank Hill, Death Penalty For The Retarded, San Diego Union-Tribune, Mar. 28, 1993, at G3||1989||64.8% not all right 25.7% is all right 9.5% no opinion||"Some people feel there is nothing wrong with imposing the death penalty on persons who are mentally retarded depending on the circum- stances. Others feel the death penalty should never be imposed on persons who are mentally retarded under any circumstance. The death penalty on a mentally retarded person is . . . "|
|CA||Field Research Corp., California Death Penalty Survey, Q. 62D (Feb. 1997) Paul Van Slambrouck, Execution and a Convict's Mental State, The Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 27, 1998, at 1||1997||74% disagree 17% agree 9% no opinion||"Mentally retarded defendants should be given the death penalty when they commit capital crimes."|
|CT||Quinnipac University||2001||77% no 12% yes||"Do you think that persons convicted of|
Appendix to opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.
|Polling Institute, Death Penalty Survey Info., Q. 35 (Apr. 23, 2001)||11% don't know||murder who are mentally retarded should or should not receive the death penalty?"|
|FL||Amnesty International Martin Dyckman, Death Penalty's High Price, St. Petersburg Times, Apr. 19, 1992, at 3D||1986||71% opposed||[not provided]|
|GA||Georgia State University Tracy Thompson, Executions of Retarded Opposed, Atlanta Journal, Jan. 6, 1987, at 1B||1987||66% opposed 17% favor 16% depends||[not provided]|
|LA||Marketing Research Inst., Loyola Death Penalty Survey, Q. 7 (Feb. 1993)||1993||77.7% no 9.2% yes 13% uncertain||"Would you vote for the death penalty if the convicted person is mentally retarded?"|
|LA||Louisiana Poll, Poll 104, Q. 9 (Apr. 2001)||2001||68% no 19% yes 11% no opinion 2% won t say||"Do you believe mentally retarded people, who are convicted of capital murder, should be executed?"|
|MD||Survey Research Center, University of Maryland (Nov. 1988)||1988||82% opposed 8% favor 10% other||"Would you favor or oppose the death penalty for a person convicted of murder if he or she is mentally retarded?"|
Appendix to opinion of Rehnquist, C. J.
|MO||Missouri Mental Retardation and Death Penalty Survey, Q. 5 (Oct. 1993)||1993||61.3% not all right 23.7% is all right 15% don't know||"Some people feel there is nothing wrong with imposing the death penalty on persons who are mentally retarded depending on the circum- stances. Others feel that the death penalty should never be imposed on persons who are mentally retarded under any circum- stances. Do you think it IS or IS NOT all right to impose the death penalty on a mentally retarded person?"|
|NC/SC||Charlotte Observer- WMTV News Poll (Sept. 2000) Diane Suchetka, Carolinas Join Emotional Debate Over Executing Mentally Retarded, Charlotte Observer, Sept. 13, 2000||2000||64% yes 21% no 14% not sure||"Should the Carolinas ban the execution of people with mental retardation?"|
|NM||Research & Polling Inc., Use of the Death Penalty Public Opinion Poll, Q. 2 (Dec. 1990)||1990||57.1% oppose 10.5% support 26.2% depends 6.1% don't know||62% support the death penalty. Asked of those that support it, "for which of the following do you support use of the|
Appendix to opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.
|death penalty . . . when the convicted person is mentally retarded?"|
|NY||Patrick Caddell Enterprises, NY Public Opinion Poll, The Death Penalty: An Executive Summary, Q. 27 (May 1989) Ronald Tabak & J. Mark Lane, The Execution of Injustice: A Cost and Lack-of-Benefit Analysis of the Death Penalty, 23 Loyola (LA) L. Rev. 59, 93 (1989)||1989||82% oppose 10% favor 9% don't know||"I'd like you to imagine you are a member of a jury. The jury has found the defendant guilty of murder beyond a reasonable doubt and now needs to decide about sentencing. You are the last juror to decide and your decision will determine whether or not the offender will receive the death penalty. Would you favor or oppose sentencing the offender to the death penalty if . . . the convicted person were mentally retarded?"|
|OK||Survey of Oklahoma Attitudes Regarding Capital Punishment: Survey Conducted for Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, Q. C (July 1999)||1999||83.5% should not be executed 10.8% should be executed 5.7% depends||"Some people think that persons convicted of murder who are mentally retarded (or have a mental age of between 5 and 10 years) should not be executed. Other people think that 'retarded' persons should be subject to the death penalty like anyone else. Which is closer to|
|the way you feel, that 'retarded' persons should not be executed, or that 'retarded' persons should be subject to the death penalty like everyone else?"|
|TX||Austin American Statesman, Nov. 15, 1988, at B3||1988||73% opposed||[not provided]|
|TX||Sam Houston State University, College of Criminal Justice, Texas Crime Poll On-line (1995) Domingo Ramirez, Jr., Murder Trial May Hinge on Defendant's IQ, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Oct. 6, 1997, at 1||1995||61% more likely to oppose||"For each of the following items that have been found to affect people's attitude about the death penalty, please state if you would be more likely to favor or more likely to oppose the death penalty, or wouldn't it matter . . . if the murderer is severely mentally retarded?"|
|TX||Scripps-Howard Texas Poll: Death Penalty (Mar. 2001) Dan Parker, Most Texans Support Death Penalty, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Mar. 2, 2001, at A1||2001||66% no 17% yes 17% don't know/no answer||"Should the state use the death penalty when the inmate is considered mentally retarded?"|
Appendix to opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.
|TX||Houston Chronicle (Feb. 2001) Stephen Brewer & Mike Tolson, A Deadly Distinction: Part III, Debate Fervent in Mental Cases, Johnny Paul Penry Illustrates a Lingering Capital Conundrum, The Houston Chronicle, Feb. 6, 2001, at A6||2001||59.9% no support 19.3% support 20.7% not sure/ no answer||"Would you support the death penalty if you were convinced the defendant were guilty, but the defendant is mentally impaired?"|
|US||Harris Poll, Unfinished Agenda on Race, Q. 32 (Sept. 1988) Saundra Torry, High Court to Hear Case on Retarded Slayer, The Washington Post, Jan. 11, 1989, at A6||1988||71% should not be executed 21% should be executed 4% depends 3% not sure/ refused||"Some people think that persons convicted of murder who have a mental age of less than 18 (or the 'retarded') should not be executed. Other people think that 'retarded' persons should be subject to the death penalty like anyone else. Which is closer to the way you feel, that 'retarded' persons should not be executed, or that 'retarded' persons should be subject to the death penalty like anyone else?"|
Appendix to opinion of Rehnquist, C. J.
|US||Yankelovich Clancy Shulman, Time/CNN Poll, Q. 14 (July 7, 1989) Samuel R. Gross, Second Thoughts: Americans' Views on the Death Penalty at the Turn of the Century, Capital Punishment and the American Future (Feb. 2001)||1989||61% oppose 27% favor 12% not sure||"Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for mentally retarded individuals convicted of serious crimes, such as murder?"|
|US||The Tarrance Group, Death Penalty Poll, Q. 9 (Mar. 1993) Samuel R. Gross, Update: American Public Opinion on the Death Penalty--It's Getting Personal, 83 Cornell L. Rev. 1448, 1467 (1998)||1993||56% not all right 32% is all right 11% unsure||"Some people feel that there is nothing wrong with imposing the death penalty on persons who are mentally retarded, depending on the circumstances. Others feel that the death penalty should never be imposed on persons who are mentally retarded under any circumstances. Which of these views comes closest to your own?"|
|US||Public Policy Research, Crime in America, Q. 72 (July 1995)||1995||67% likely to oppose 7% likely to favor 26% wouldn't matter||"For each item please tell me if you would be more likely to favor the death penalty, more likely to oppose the death|
Appendix to opinion of REHNQUIST, C. J.
|penalty or it wouldn't matter . . . if it is true that the murderer is severely mentally retarded?"|
|US||Princeton Research, Newsweek Poll, Q. 16 (Nov. 1995) Samuel R. Gross, Update: American Public Opinion on the Death Penalty--It's Getting Personal, 83 Cornell L. Rev. 1448, 1468 (1998)||1995||83% oppose 9% favor 8% don't know refused||"If the convicted person was . . . mentally retarded, would you favor or oppose the death penalty?"|
|US||Peter Hart Research Associates, Inc., Innocence Survey, Q. 12 (Dec. 1999)||1999||58% strongly/ somewhat favor 26% strongly/ somewhat oppose 12% mixed/ neutral 4% not sure||". . . [F]or each proposal I read, please tell me whether you strongly favor, somewhat favor, have mixed or neutral feelings, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose that proposal . . . . [P]rohibit the death penalty for defendants who are mentally retarded."|
|US||Peter Hart Research Associates, Inc., Innocence Survey, Q. 9 (Dec. 1999)||1999||72% much/ somewhat less likely 19% no difference 9% not sure 47% much less likely||Suppose you were on a jury and a defendant was convicted of murder. Now it is time to determine the sentence. If you knew that the|
|25% somewhat less likely||defendant was mentally retarded or otherwise mentally impaired in a serious way, would you be much less likely to support the use of the death penalty in this specific case, somewhat less likely, or would it make no difference to you?"|
|US||Houston Chronicle (Feb. 2001) Stephen Brewer & Mike Tolson, A Deadly Distinction: Part III, Debate Fervent in Mental Cases, Johnny Paul Penry Illustrates a Lingering Capital Conundrum, The Houston Chronicle, Feb. 6, 2001, at A6||2001||63.8% no support 16.4% support 19.8% not sure/ no answer||"Would you support the death penalty if you were convinced the defendant were guilty, but the defendant is mentally impaired?"|
JUSTICE SCALIA, with whom THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE THOMAS join, dissenting.
Today's decision is the pinnacle of our Eighth Amendment death-is-different jurisprudence. Not only does it, like all of that jurisprudence, find no support in the text or history of the Eighth Amendment it does not even have support in current social attitudes regarding the conditions that render
an otherwise just death penalty inappropriate. Seldom has an opinion of this Court rested so obviously upon nothing but the personal views of its Members.
I begin with a brief restatement of facts that are abridged by the Court but important to understanding this case. After spending the day drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, petitioner Daryl Renard Atkins and a partner in crime drove to a convenience store, intending to rob a customer. Their victim was Eric Nesbitt, an airman from Langley Air Force Base, whom they abducted, drove to a nearby automated teller machine, and forced to withdraw $200. They then drove him to a deserted area, ignoring his pleas to leave him unharmed. According to the co-conspirator, whose testimony the jury evidently credited, Atkins ordered Nesbitt out of the vehicle and, after he had taken only a few steps, shot him one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight times in the thorax, chest, abdomen, arms, and legs.
The jury convicted Atkins of capital murder. At resentencing (the Virginia Supreme Court affirmed his conviction but remanded for resentencing because the trial court had used an improper verdict form, 257 Va. 160, 179,510 S. E. 2d 445, 457 (1999)), the jury heard extensive evidence of petitioner's alleged mental retardation. A psychologist testified that petitioner was mildly mentally retarded with an IQ of 59, that he was a "slow learner," App. 444, who showed a "lack of success in pretty much every domain of his life," id., at 442, and that he had an "impaired" capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and to conform his conduct to the law, id., at 453. Petitioner's family members offered additional evidence in support of his mental retardation claim (e. g., that petitioner is a "follower," id., at 421). The Commonwealth contested the evidence of retardation and presented testimony of a psychologist who found "absolutely no evidence other than the IQ score . . . indicating that [peti-
tioner] was in the least bit mentally retarded" and concluded that petitioner was "of average intelligence, at least." Id., at 476.
The jury also heard testimony about petitioner's 16 prior felony convictions for robbery, attempted robbery, abduction, use of a firearm, and maiming. Id., at 491-522. The victims of these offenses provided graphic depictions of petitioner's violent tendencies: He hit one over the head with a beer bottle, id., at 406 he slapped a gun across another victim's face, clubbed her in the head with it, knocked her to the ground, and then helped her up, only to shoot her in the stomach, id., at 411-413. The jury sentenced petitioner to death. The Supreme Court of Virginia affirmed petitioner's sentence. 260 Va. 375, 534 S. E. 2d 312 (2000).
As the foregoing history demonstrates, petitioner's mental retardation was a central issue at sentencing. The jury concluded, however, that his alleged retardation was not a compelling reason to exempt him from the death penalty in light of the brutality of his crime and his long demonstrated propensity for violence. "In upsetting this particularized judgment on the basis of a constitutional absolute," the Court concludes that no one who is even slightly mentally retarded can have sufficient "moral responsibility to be subjected to capital punishment for any crime. As a sociological and moral conclusion that is implausible and it is doubly implausible as an interpretation of the United States Constitution." Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S. 815, 863-864 (1988) (SCALIA, J., dissenting).
Under our Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, a punishment is "cruel and unusual" if it falls within one of two categories: "those modes or acts of punishment that had been considered cruel and unusual at the time that the Bill of Rights was adopted," Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U. S. 399, 405 (1986), and modes of punishment that are inconsistent with
modern "'standards of decency,'" as evinced by objective indicia, the most important of which is "legislation enacted by the country's legislatures," Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U. S. 302, 330-331 (1989).
The Court makes no pretense that execution of the mildly mentally retarded would have been considered "cruel and unusual" in 1791. Only the severely or profoundly mentally retarded, commonly known as "idiots," enjoyed any special status under the law at that time. They, like lunatics, suffered a "deficiency in will" rendering them unable to tell right from wrong. 4 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 24 (1769) (hereinafter Blackstone) see also Penry, 492 U. S., at 331-332 ("[T]he term 'idiot' was generally used to describe persons who had a total lack of reason or understanding, or an inability to distinguish between good and evil") id., at 333 (citing sources indicating that idiots generally had an IQ of 25 or below, which would place them within the "profound" or "severe" range of mental retardation under modern standards) 2 A. Fitz-Herbert, Natura Brevium 233B (9th ed. 1794) (originally published 1534) (An idiot is "such a person who cannot account or number twenty pence, nor can tell who was his father or mother, nor how old he is, etc., so as it may appear that he hath no understanding of reason what shall be for his profit, or what for his loss"). Due to their incompetence, idiots were "excuse[d] from the guilt, and of course from the punishment, of any criminal action committed under such deprivation of the senses." 4 Blackstone 25 see also Penry, supra, at 331. Instead, they were often committed to civil confinement or made wards of the State, thereby preventing them from "go[ing] loose, to the terror of the king's subjects." 4 Blackstone 25 see also S. Brakel, J. Parry, & B. Weiner, The Mentally Disabled and the Law 12-14 (3d ed. 1985) 1 Blackstone 292-296 1 M. Hale, Pleas of the Crown 33 (1st Am. ed. 1847). Mentally retarded offenders with less severe impairments--those who were not "idiots"--suffered criminal prosecution
and punishment, including capital punishment. See, e. g., I. Ray, Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity 65, 87-92 (W. Overholser ed. 1962) (recounting the 1834 trial and execution in Concord, New Hampshire, of an apparent "imbecile"--imbecility being a less severe form of retardation which "differs from idiocy in the circumstance that while in [the idiot] there is an utter destitution of every thing like reason, [imbeciles] possess some intellectual capacity, though infinitely less than is possessed by the great mass of mankind") A. Highmore, Law of Idiocy and Lunacy 200 (1807) ("The great difficulty in all these cases, is to determine where a person shall be said to be so far deprived of his sense and memory as not to have any of his actions imputed to him: or where notwithstanding some defects of this kind he still appears to have so much reason and understanding as will make him accountable for his actions . . . ").
The Court is left to argue, therefore, that execution of the mildly retarded is inconsistent with the "evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society." Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86, 101 (1958) (plurality opinion) (Warren, C. J.). Before today, our opinions consistently emphasized that Eighth Amendment judgments regarding the existence of social "standards" "should be informed by objective factors to the maximum possible extent" and "should not be, or appear to be, merely the subjective views of individual Justices." Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584, 592 (1977) (plurality opinion) see also Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U. S. 361, 369 (1989) McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U. S. 279, 300 (1987) Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782, 788 (1982). "First" among these objective factors are the "statutes passed by society's elected representatives," Stanford, supra, at 370 because it "will rarely if ever be the case that the Members of this Court will have a better sense of the evolution in views of the American people than do their elected representatives," Thompson, supra, at 865 (SCALIA, J., dissenting).
The Court pays lipservice to these precedents as it miraculously extracts a "national consensus" forbidding execution of the mentally retarded, ante, at 316, from the fact that 18 States--less than half (47%) of the 38 States that permit capital punishment (for whom the issue exists)--have very recently enacted legislation barring execution of the mentally retarded. Even that 47% figure is a distorted one. If one is to say, as the Court does today, that all executions of the mentally retarded are so morally repugnant as to violate our national "standards of decency," surely the "consensus" it points to must be one that has set its righteous face against all such executions. Not 18 States, but only 7--18% of death penalty jurisdictions--have legislation of that scope. Eleven of those that the Court counts enacted statutes prohibiting execution of mentally retarded defendants convicted after, or convicted of crimes committed after, the effective date of the legislation[Footnote 1] those already on death row, or consigned there before the statute's effective date, or even (in those States using the date of the crime as the criterion of retroactivity) tried in the future for murders committed many years ago, could be put to death. That is not a statement of absolute moral repugnance, but one of current preference between two tolerable approaches. Two of these States permit execution of the mentally retarded in other situations as well: Kansas apparently permits execution of all
except the severely mentally retarded[Footnote 2] New York permits execution of the mentally retarded who commit murder in a correctional facility. N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27. 12(d) (McKinney 2001) N. Y. Penal Law 125.27 (McKinney 2002).
But let us accept, for the sake of argument, the Court's faulty count. That bare number of States alone--18--should be enough to convince any reasonable person that no "national consensus" exists. How is it possible that agreement among 47% of the death penalty jurisdictions amounts to "consensus"? Our prior cases have generally required a much higher degree of agreement before finding a punishment cruel and unusual on "evolving standards" grounds. In Coker, supra, at 595-596, we proscribed the death penalty for rape of an adult woman after finding that only one jurisdiction, Georgia, authorized such a punishment. In Enmund, supra, at 789, we invalidated the death penalty for mere participation in a robbery in which an accomplice took a life, a punishment not permitted in 28 of the death penalty States (78%). In Ford, 477 U. S., at 408, we supported the common-law prohibition of execution of the insane with the observation that "[t]his ancestral legacy has not outlived its time," since not a single State authorizes such punishment. In Solem v. Helm, 463 U. S. 277,300 (1983), we invalidated a life sentence without parole under a recidivist statute by which the criminal "was treated more severely than he would have been in any other State." What the Court calls evidence of "consensus" in the present case (a fudged 47%) more closely resembles evidence that we found inadequate
to establish consensus in earlier cases. Tison v. Arizona, 481 U. S. 137, 154, 158 (1987), upheld a state law authorizing capital punishment for major participation in a felony with reckless indifference to life where only 11 of the 37 death penalty States (30%) prohibited such punishment. Stanford, 492 U. S., at 372, upheld a state law permitting execution of defendants who committed a capital crime at age 16 where only 15 of the 36 death penalty States (42%) prohibited death for such offenders.
Moreover, a major factor that the Court entirely disregards is that the legislation of all 18 States it relies on is still in its infancy. The oldest of the statutes is only 14 years old[Footnote 3] five were enacted last year[Footnote 4] over half were enacted within the past eight years.[Footnote 5] Few, if any, of the States have had sufficient experience with these laws to know whether they are sensible in the long term. It is "myopic to base sweeping constitutional principles upon the narrow experience of [a few] years." Coker, 433 U. S., at 614 (Burger, C. J., dissenting) see also Thompson, 487 U. S., at 854-855 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring in judgment).
The Court attempts to bolster its embarrassingly feeble evidence of "consensus" with the following: "It is not so much the number of these States that is significant, but the consistency of the direction of change." Ante, at 315 (emphasis added). But in what other direction could we possibly see change? Given that 14 years ago all the death penalty statutes included the mentally retarded, any change (except precipitate undoing of what had just been done) was bound
to be in the one direction the Court finds significant enough to overcome the lack of real consensus. That is to say, to be accurate the Court's "consistency-of-the-direction-of-change" point should be recast into the following unimpressive observation: "No State has yet undone its exemption of the mentally retarded, one for as long as 14 whole years." In any event, reliance upon "trends," even those of much longer duration than a mere 14 years, is a perilous basis for constitutional adjudication, as JUSTICE O'CONNOR eloquently explained in Thompson:
"In 1846, Michigan became the first State to abolish the death penalty . . . . In succeeding decades, other American States continued the trend towards abolition . . . . Later, and particularly after World War II, there ensued a steady and dramatic decline in executions . . . . In the 1950's and 1960's, more States abolished or radically restricted capital punishment, and executions ceased completely for several years beginning in 1968 . . . .
"In 1972, when this Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of the death penalty, such statistics might have suggested that the practice had become a relic, implicitly rejected by a new societal consensus . . . . We now know that any inference of a societal consensus rejecting the death penalty would have been mistaken. But had this Court then declared the existence of such a consensus, and outlawed capital punishment, legislatures would very likely not have been able to revive it. The mistaken premise of the decision would have been frozen into constitutional law, making it difficult to refute and even more difficult to reject." 487 U. S., at 854-855.
Her words demonstrate, of course, not merely the peril of riding a trend, but also the peril of discerning a consensus where there is none.
The Court's thrashing about for evidence of "consensus" includes reliance upon the margins by which state legislatures have enacted bans on execution of the retarded. Ante, at 316. Presumably, in applying our Eighth Amendment "evolving-standards-of-decency" jurisprudence, we will henceforth weigh not only how many States have agreed, but how many States have agreed by how much. Of course if the percentage of legislators voting for the bill is significant, surely the number of people represented by the legislators voting for the bill is also significant: the fact that 49% of the legislators in a State with a population of 60 million voted against the bill should be more impressive than the fact that 90% of the legislators in a State with a population of 2 million voted for it. (By the way, the population of the death penalty States that exclude the mentally retarded is only 44% of the population of all death penalty States. U. S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Census, Statistical Abstract of the United States 21 (121st ed. 2001).) This is quite absurd. What we have looked for in the past to "evolve" the Eighth Amendment is a consensus of the same sort as the consensus that adopted the Eighth Amendment: a consensus of the sovereign States that form the Union, not a nose count of Americans for and against.
Even less compelling (if possible) is the Court's argument, ante, at 316, that evidence of "national consensus" is to be found in the infrequency with which retarded persons are executed in States that do not bar their execution. To begin with, what the Court takes as true is in fact quite doubtful. It is not at all clear that execution of the mentally retarded is "uncommon," ibid., as even the sources cited by the Court suggest, see ante, at 316, n. 20 (citing D. Keyes, W. Edwards, & R. Perske, People with Mental Retardation are Dying Legally, 35 Mental Retardation (Feb. 1997) (updated by Death Penalty Information Center, available at http://www.advocacyone.org/deathpenalty.html (as visited
June 12,2002) (showing that 12 States executed 35 allegedly mentally retarded offenders during the period 1984-2000)). See also Bonner & Rimer, Executing the Mentally Retarded Even as Laws Begin to Shift, N. Y. Times, Aug. 7, 2000, p. Ai (reporting that 10% of death row inmates are retarded). If, however, execution of the mentally retarded is "uncommon" and if it is not a sufficient explanation of this that the retarded constitute a tiny fraction of society (1% to 3%), Brief for American Psychological Association et al. as Amici Curiae 7 then surely the explanation is that mental retardation is a constitutionally mandated mitigating factor at sentencing, Penry, 492 U. S., at 328. For that reason, even if there were uniform national sentiment in favor of executing the retarded in appropriate cases, one would still expect execution of the mentally retarded to be "uncommon." To adapt to the present case what the Court itself said in Stanford, 492 U. S., at 374: "[I]t is not only possible, but overwhelmingly probable, that the very considerations which induce [today's majority] to believe that death should never be imposed on [mentally retarded] offenders . . . cause prosecutors and juries to believe that it should rarely be imposed."
But the Prize for the Court's Most Feeble Effort to fabricate "national consensus" must go to its appeal (deservedly relegated to a footnote) to the views of assorted professional and religious organizations, members of the so-called "world community," and respondents to opinion polls. Ante, at 316-317, n. 21. I agree with THE CHIEF JUSTICE, ante, at 325-328 (dissenting opinion), that the views of professional and religious organizations and the results of opinion polls are irrelevant.[Footnote 6] Equally irrelevant are the practices of the
"world community," whose notions of justice are (thankfully) not always those of our people. "We must never forget that it is a Constitution for the United States of America that we are expounding . . . . [W]here there is not first a settled consensus among our own people, the views of other nations, however enlightened the Justices of this Court may think them to be, cannot be imposed upon Americans through the Constitution." Thompson, 487 U. S., at 868-869, n. 4 (SCALIA, J., dissenting).
Beyond the empty talk of a "national consensus," the Court gives us a brief glimpse of what really underlies today's decision: pretension to a power confined neither by the moral sentiments originally enshrined in the Eighth Amendment (its original meaning) nor even by the current moral sentiments of the American people. "'[T]he Constitution,'" the Court says, "contemplates that in the end our own judgment will be brought to bear on the question of the acceptability of the death penalty under the Eighth Amendment.'" Ante, at 312 (quoting Coker, 433 U. S., at 597) (emphasis added). (The unexpressed reason for this unexpressed "contemplation" of the Constitution is presumably that really good lawyers have moral sentiments superior to those of the common herd, whether in 1791 or today.) The arrogance of this assumption of power takes one's breath away. And it explains, of course, why the Court can be so cavalier about the evidence of consensus. It is just a game, after all. "'[I]n the end,'" Thompson, supra, at 823, n. 8 (plurality opinion (quoting Coker, supra, at 597 (plurality opinion))), it is the feelings and intuition of a majority of the Justices that count-"the perceptions of decency, or of penology, or of mercy, entertained . . . by a majority of the small and
unrepresentative segment of our society that sits on this Court." Thompson, supra, at 873 (SCALIA, J., dissenting).
The genuinely operative portion of the opinion, then, is the Court's statement of the reasons why it agrees with the contrived consensus it has found, that the "diminished capacities" of the mentally retarded render the death penalty excessive. Ante, at 317-321. The Court's analysis rests on two fundamental assumptions: (1) that the Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive punishments, and (2) that sentencing juries or judges are unable to account properly for the "diminished capacities" of the retarded. The first assumption is wrong, as I explained at length in Harmelin v. Michigan, 501 U. S. 957, 966-990 (1991) (opinion of SCALIA, J.). The Eighth Amendment is addressed to always-andeverywhere "cruel" punishments, such as the rack and the thumbscrew. But where the punishment is in itself permissible, "[t]he Eighth Amendment is not a ratchet, whereby a temporary consensus on leniency for a particular crime fixes a permanent constitutional maximum, disabling the States from giving effect to altered beliefs and responding to changed social conditions." Id., at 990. The second assumption--inability of judges or juries to take proper account of mental retardation--is not only unsubstantiated, but contradicts the immemorial belief, here and in England, that they play an indispensable role in such matters:
"[I]t is very difficult to define the indivisible line that divides perfect and partial insanity but it must rest upon circumstances duly to be weighed and considered both by the judge and jury, lest on the one side there be a kind of inhumanity towards the defects of human nature, or on the other side too great an indulgence given to great crimes . . . . " 1 Hale, Pleas of the Crown, at 30.
Proceeding from these faulty assumptions, the Court gives two reasons why the death penalty is an excessive punishment for all mentally retarded offenders. First, the "dimin-
ished capacities" of the mentally retarded raise a "serious question" whether their execution contributes to the "social purposes" of the death penalty, viz., retribution and deterrence. Ante, at 318-319. (The Court conveniently ignores a third "social purpose" of the death penalty--"incapacitation of dangerous criminals and the consequent prevention of crimes that they may otherwise commit in the future," Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U. S. 153, 183, n. 28 (1976) (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and STEVENS, JJ.). But never mind its discussion of even the other two does not bear analysis.) Retribution is not advanced, the argument goes, because the mentally retarded are no more culpable than the average murderer, whom we have already held lacks sufficient culpability to warrant the death penalty, see Godfrey v. Georgia, 446 U. S. 420, 433 (1980) (plurality opinion). Ante, at 319. Who says so? Is there an established correlation between mental acuity and the ability to conform one's conduct to the law in such a rudimentary matter as murder? Are the mentally retarded really more disposed (and hence more likely) to commit willfully cruel and serious crime than others? In my experience, the opposite is true: being childlike generally suggests innocence rather than brutality.
Assuming, however, that there is a direct connection between diminished intelligence and the inability to refrain from murder, what scientific analysis can possibly show that a mildly retarded individual who commits an exquisite torture-killing is "no more culpable" than the "average" murderer in a holdup-gone-wrong or a domestic dispute? Or a moderately retarded individual who commits a series of 20 exquisite torture-killings? Surely culpability, and deservedness of the most severe retribution, depends not merely (if at all) upon the mental capacity of the criminal (above the level where he is able to distinguish right from wrong) but also upon the depravity of the crime--which is precisely why this sort of question has traditionally been thought answerable not by a categorical rule of the sort the Court today
imposes upon all trials, but rather by the sentencer's weighing of the circumstances (both degree of retardation and depravity of crime) in the particular case. The fact that juries continue to sentence mentally retarded offenders to death for extreme crimes shows that society's moral outrage sometimes demands execution of retarded offenders. By what principle of law, science, or logic can the Court pronounce that this is wrong? There is none. Once the Court admits (as it does) that mental retardation does not render the offender morally blameless, ante, at 318, there is no basis for saying that the death penalty is never appropriate retribution, no matter how heinous the crime. As long as a mentally retarded offender knows "the difference between right and wrong," ibid., only the sentencer can assess whether his retardation reduces his culpability enough to exempt him from the death penalty for the particular murder in question.
As for the other social purpose of the death penalty that the Court discusses, deterrence: That is not advanced, the Court tells us, because the mentally retarded are "less likely" than their nonretarded counterparts to "process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and . . . control their conduct based upon that information." Ante, at 320. Of course this leads to the same conclusion discussed earlier--that the mentally retarded (because they are less deterred) are more likely to kill--which neither I nor the society at large believes. In any event, even the Court does not say that all mentally retarded individuals cannot "process the information of the possibility of execution as a penalty and . . . control their conduct based upon that information" it merely asserts that they are "less likely" to be able to do so. But surely the deterrent effect of a penalty is adequately vindicated if it successfully deters many, but not all, of the target class. Virginia's death penalty, for example, does not fail of its deterrent effect simply because some criminals are unaware that Virginia has the death penalty. In other words, the supposed fact that some
retarded criminals cannot fully appreciate the death penalty has nothing to do with the deterrence rationale, but is simply an echo of the arguments denying a retribution rationale, discussed and rejected above. I am not sure that a murderer is somehow less blameworthy if (though he knew his act was wrong) he did not fully appreciate that he could die for it but if so, we should treat a mentally retarded murderer the way we treat an offender who may be "less likely" to respond to the death penalty because he was abused as a child. We do not hold him immune from capital punishment, but require his background to be considered by the sentencer as a mitigating factor. Eddings v. Oklahoma, 455 U. S. 104, 113-117 (1982).
The Court throws one last factor into its grab bag of reasons why execution of the retarded is "excessive" in all cases:
Mentally retarded offenders "face a special risk of wrongful execution" because they are less able "to make a persuasive showing of mitigation," "to give meaningful assistance to their counsel," and to be effective witnesses. Ante, at 320-321. "Special risk" is pretty flabby language (even flabbier than "less likely")--and I suppose a similar "special risk" could be said to exist for just plain stupid people, inarticulate people, even ugly people. If this unsupported claim has any substance to it (which I doubt), it might support a due process claim in all criminal prosecutions of the mentally retarded but it is hard to see how it has anything to do with an Eighth Amendment claim that execution of the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual. We have never before held it to be cruel and unusual punishment to impose a sentence in violation of some other constitutional imperative.
Today's opinion adds one more to the long list of substantive and procedural requirements impeding imposition of the death penalty imposed under this Court's assumed power to invent a death-is-different jurisprudence. None of those
requirements existed when the Eighth Amendment was adopted, and some of them were not even supported by current moral consensus. They include prohibition of the death penalty for "ordinary" murder, Godfrey, 446 U. S., at 433, for rape of an adult woman, Coker, 433 U. S., at 592, and for felony murder absent a showing that the defendant possessed a sufficiently culpable state of mind, Enmund, 458 U. S., at 801 prohibition of the death penalty for any person under the age of 16 at the time of the crime, Thompson, 487 U. S., at 838 (plurality opinion) prohibition of the death penalty as the mandatory punishment for any crime, Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U. S. 280, 305 (1976) (plurality opinion), Sumner v. Shuman, 483 U. S. 66, 77-78 (1987) a requirement that the sentencer not be given unguided discretion, Furman v. Georgia, 408 U. S. 238 (1972) (per curiam), a requirement that the sentencer be empowered to take into account all mitigating circumstances, Lockett v. Ohio, 438 U. S. 586, 604 (1978) (plurality opinion), Eddings v. Oklahoma, supra, at 110 and a requirement that the accused receive a judicial evaluation of his claim of insanity before the sentence can be executed, Ford, 477 U. S., at 410-411 (plurality opinion). There is something to be said for popular abolition of the death penalty there is nothing to be said for its incremental abolition by this Court.
This newest invention promises to be more effective than any of the others in turning the process of capital trial into a game. One need only read the definitions of mental retardation adopted by the American Association on Mental Retardation and the American Psychiatric Association (set forth in the Court's opinion, ante, at 308, n. 3) to realize that the symptoms of this condition can readily be feigned. And whereas the capital defendant who feigns insanity risks commitment to a mental institution until he can be cured (and then tried and executed), Jones v. United States, 463 U. S. 354, 370, and n. 20 (1983), the capital defendant who feigns mental retardation risks nothing at all. The mere pendency
of the present case has brought us petitions by death row inmates claiming for the first time, after multiple habeas petitions, that they are retarded. See, e. g., Moore v. Texas, 535 U. S. 1044 (2002) (SCALIA, J., dissenting from grant of applications for stay of execution).
Perhaps these practical difficulties will not be experienced by the minority of capital-punishment States that have very recently changed mental retardation from a mitigating factor (to be accepted or rejected by the sentencer) to an absolute immunity. Time will tell--and the brief time those States have had the new disposition in place (an average of 6.8 years) is surely not enough. But if the practical difficulties do not appear, and if the other States share the Court's perceived moral consensus that all mental retardation renders the death penalty inappropriate for all crimes, then that majority will presumably follow suit. But there is no justification for this Court's pushing them into the experiment--and turning the experiment into a permanent practice--on constitutional pretext. Nothing has changed the accuracy of Matthew Hale's endorsement of the common law's traditional method for taking account of guilt-reducing factors, written over three centuries ago:
"[Determination of a person's incapacity] is a matter of great difficulty, partly from the easiness of counterfeiting this disability . . . and partly from the variety of the degrees of this infirmity, whereof some are sufficient, and some are insufficient to excuse persons in capital offenses . . . .
"Yet the law of England hath afforded the best method of trial, that is possible, of this and all other matters of fact, namely, by a jury of twelve men all concurring in the same judgment, by the testimony of witnesses . . . , and by the inspection and direction of the judge." 1 Pleas of the Crown, at 32-33.
Initially, both Jones and Atkins were indicted for capital murder. The prosecution ultimately permitted Jones to plead guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against Atkins. As a result of the plea, Jones became ineligible to receive the death penalty.
Highly damaging to the credibility of Atkins' testimony was its substantial inconsistency with the statement he gave to the police upon his arrest. Jones, in contrast, had declined to make an initial statement to the authorities.
The American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR) defines mental retardation as follows: "Mental retardation refers to substantial limitations in present functioning. It is characterized by significantly subaverage intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two or more of the following applicable adaptive skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, selfdirection, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work. Mental retardation manifests before age 18." Mental Retardation: Definition, Classification, and Systems of Supports 5 (9th ed. 1992).
The American Psychiatric Association's definition is similar: "The essential feature of Mental Retardation is significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning (Criterion A) that is accompanied by significant limitations in adaptive functioning in at least two of the following skill areas: communication, self-care, home living, social/interpersonal skills, use of community resources, self-direction, functional academic skills, work, leisure, health, and safety (Criterion B). The onset must occur before age 18 years (Criterion C). Mental Retardation has many different etiologies and may be seen as a final common pathway of various pathological processes that affect the functioning of the central nervous system." Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 41 (4th ed. 2000). "Mild" mental retardation is typically used to describe people with an IQ level of 50-55 to approximately 70. Id., at 42-43.
The doctor interviewed Atkins, members of his family, and deputies at the jail where he had been incarcerated for the preceding 18 months. Dr. Nelson also reviewed the statements that Atkins had given to the police and the investigative reports concerning this case.
Dr. Nelson administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales test (WAIS-III), the standard instrument in the United States for assessing intellectual functioning. AAMR, Mental Retardation, supra. The WAIS-III is scored by adding together the number of points earned on different subtests, and using a mathematical formula to convert this raw score into a scaled score. The test measures an intelligence range from 45 to 155. The mean score of the test is 100, which means that a person receiving a score of 100 is considered to have an average level of cognitive functioning. A. Kaufman & E. Lichtenberger, Essentials of WAIS-III Assessment 60 (1999). It is estimated that between 1 and 3 percent of the population has an IQ between 70 and 75 or lower, which is typically considered the cutoff IQ score for the intellectual function prong of the mental retardation definition. 2 Kaplan & Sadock's Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry 2952 (B. Sadock & V. Sadock eds. 7th ed. 2000).
At the sentencing phase, Dr. Nelson testified: "[Atkins'] full scale IQ is 59. Compared to the population at large, that means less than one percentile . . . . Mental retardation is a relatively rare thing. It's about one percent of the population." App. 274. According to Dr. Nelson, Atkins' IQ score "would automatically qualify for Social Security disability income." Id., at 280. Dr. Nelson also indicated that of the over 40 capital defendants that he had evaluated, Atkins was only the second individual who met the criteria for mental retardation. Id., at 310. He testified that, in his opinion, Atkins' limited intellect had been a consistent feature throughout his life, and that his IQ score of 59 is not an "aberration, malingered result, or invalid test score." Id., at 308.
Dr. Samenow's testimony was based upon two interviews with Atkins, a review of his school records, and interviews with correctional staff. He did not administer an intelligence test, but did ask Atkins questions taken from the 1972 version of the Wechsler Memory Scale. Id., at 524-525, 529. Dr. Samenow attributed Atkins' "academic performance [that was] by and large terrible" to the fact that he "is a person who chose to pay attention sometimes, not to pay attention others, and did poorly because he did not want to do what he was required to do." Id., at 480-481.
Thus, we have read the text of the Amendment to prohibit all excessive punishments, as well as cruel and unusual punishments that mayor may not be excessive.
Jerome Bowden, who was identified as having mental retardation when he was 14 years old, was scheduled for imminent execution in Georgia in June 1986. The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles granted a stay following public protests over his execution. A psychologist selected by the State evaluated Bowden and determined that he had an IQ of 65, which is consistent with mental retardation. Nevertheless, the board lifted the stay and Bowden was executed the following day. The board concluded that Bowden understood the nature of his crime and his punishment and therefore that execution, despite his mental deficiencies, was permissible. See Montgomery, Bowden's Execution Stirs Protest, Atlanta Journal, Oct. 13, 1986, p. AI.
Ga. Code Ann. 17-7-131(j) (Supp. 1988).
The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100-690, 7001(l), 102 Stat. 4390,21 U. S. C. 848(l). Congress expanded the federal death penalty law in 1994. It again included a provision that prohibited any individual with mental retardation from being sentenced to death or executed. Federal Death Penalty Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. 3596(c).
Md. Ann. Code, Art. 27, 412(f)(I) (1989).
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 532.130, 532.135, 532.140 Tenn. Code Ann. 3913-203 N. M. Stat. Ann. 31-20A-2.1 Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-618 Colo. Rev. Stat. 16-9-401 Wash. Rev. Code 10.95.030 Ind. Code 35-36-9-2 through 35-36-9-6 Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4623.
N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27. However, New York law provides that a sentence of death "may not be set aside . . . upon the ground that the defendant is mentally retarded" if "the killing occurred while the defendant was confined or under custody in a state correctional facility or local correctional institution." N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27.12(d) (McKinney 2001-2002 Interim Pocket Part).
S. D. Codified Laws 23A-27A-26.1 Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 13-703.02 Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-46a Fla. Stat. 921.137 Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.030 2001-346 N. C. Sess. Laws p. 45.
House Bill No. 236 passed the Texas House on April 24, 2001, and the Senate version, S. 686, passed the Texas Senate on May 16, 2001. Governor Perry vetoed the legislation on June 17, 2001. In his veto statement, the Texas Governor did not express dissatisfaction with the principle of categorically excluding the mentally retarded from the death penalty. In fact, he stated: "We do not execute mentally retarded murderers today." See Veto Proclamation for H. B. No. 236. Instead, his motivation to veto the bill was based upon what he perceived as a procedural flaw: "My opposition to this legislation focuses on a serious legal flaw in the bill. House Bill No. 236 would create a system whereby the jury and judge are asked to make the same determination based on two different sets of facts . . . . Also of grave concern is the fact that the provision that sets up this legally flawed process never received a public hearing during the legislative process." Ibid.
Virginia Senate Bill No. 497 (2002) House Bill No. 957 (2002) see also Nevada Assembly Bill 353 (2001). Furthermore, a commission on capital punishment in Illinois has recently recommended that Illinois adopt a statute prohibiting the execution of mentally retarded offenders. Report of the Governor's Commission on Capital Punishment 156 (Apr. 2002).
A comparison to Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U. S. 361 (1989), in which we held that there was no national consensus prohibiting the execution of juvenile offenders over age 15, is telling. Although we decided Stanford on the same day as Penry, apparently only two state legislatures have raised the threshold age for imposition of the death penalty. Mont. Code Ann. 45-5-102 (1999) Ind. Code 35-50-2-3 (1998).
App. D to Brief for AAMR et al. as Amici Curiae.
Those States are Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia. D. Keyes, W. Edwards, & R. Perske, People with Mental Retardation are Dying Legally, 35 Mental Retardation (Feb. 1997) (updated by Death Penalty Information Center, available at http://www.advocacyone.org/deathpenalty.html (as visited June 18, 2002)).
Additional evidence makes it clear that this legislative judgment reflects a much broader social and professional consensus. For example, several organizations with germane expertise have adopted official positions opposing the imposition of the death penalty upon a mentally retarded offender. See Brief for American Psychological Association et al. as Amici Curiae Brief for AAMR et al. as Amici Curiae. In addition, representatives of widely diverse religious communities in the United States, reflecting Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions, have filed an amicus curiae brief explaining that even though their views about the death penalty differ, they all "share a conviction that the execution of persons with mental retardation cannot be morally justified." Brief for United States Catholic Conference et al. as Amici Curiae 2. Moreover, within the world community, the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders is overwhelmingly disapproved. Brief for European Union as Amicus Curiae 4. Finally, polling data shows a widespread consensus among Americans, even those who support the death penalty, that executing the mentally retarded is wrong. Bonner & Rimer, Executing the Mentally Retarded Even as Laws Begin to Shift, N. Y. Times, Aug. 7,2000, p. AI App. B to Brief for AAMR et al. as Amici Curiae (appending approximately 20 state and national polls on the issue). Although these factors are by no means dispositive, their consistency with the legislative evidence lends further support to our conclusion that there is a consensus among those who have addressed the issue. See Thompson v. Oklahoma, 487 U. S. 815, 830, 831, n. 31 (1988) (considering the views of "respected professional organizations, by other nations that share our Anglo-American heritage, and by the leading members of the Western European community").
The statutory definitions of mental retardation are not identical, but generally conform to the clinical definitions set forth in n. 3, supra.
See, e. g., Ellis & Luckasson, Mentally Retarded Criminal Defendants, 53 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 414, 429 (1985) Levy-Shiff, Kedem, & Sevillia, Ego Identity in Mentally Retarded Adolescents, 94 Am. J. Mental Retardation 541, 547 (1990) Whitman, Self Regulation and Mental Retardation, 94 Am. J. Mental Retardation 347, 360 (1990) Everington & Fulero, Competence to Confess: Measuring Understanding and Suggestibility of Defendants with Mental Retardation, 37 Mental Retardation 212, 212-213, 535 (1999) (hereinafter Everington & Fulero).
Apparently no such statistics exist. See Brief for American Association on Mental Retardation et al. as Amici Curiae 19, n. 29 (noting that "actions by individual prosecutors and by juries are difficult to quantify with precision"). Petitioner's inability to muster studies in his favor ought to cut against him, for it is his "heavy burden," Stanford v. Kentucky, 492 U. S. 361, 373 (1989) (internal quotation marks omitted), to establish a national consensus against a punishment deemed acceptable by the Virginia Legislature and jury who sentenced him. Furthermore, it is worth noting that experts have estimated that as many as 10 percent of death row inmates are mentally retarded, see R. Bonner & S. Rimer, Executing the Mentally Retarded Even as Laws Begin to Shift, N. Y. Times, Aug. 7, 2000, p. AI, a number which suggests that sentencing juries are not as reluctant to impose the death penalty on defendants like petitioner as was the case in Coker v. Georgia, 433 U. S. 584 (1977), and Enmund v. Florida, 458 U. S. 782 (1982).
See Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 13-703.02(1) (Supp. 2001) Ark. Code Ann. 5-4-618(d)(1) (1997) Reams v. State, 322 Ark. 336, 340, 909 S. W. 2d 324, 326-327 (1995) Fla. Stat. 921.137(8) (Supp. 2002) Ga. Code Ann. 17-7-131(j) (1997) Ind. Code 35-36-9-6 (1998) Rondon v. State, 711 N. E. 2d 506, 512 (Ind. 1999) Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4623(d), 21-4631(c) (1995) Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. 532.140(3) (1999) Md. Ann. Code, Art. 27, 412(g) (1996) Booth v. State, 327 Md. 142, 166-167, 608 A. 2d 162, 174 (1992) Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.030(7) (Supp. 2001) N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27.12(c) (McKinney Supp. 2002) 1995 N. Y. Laws, ch. 1, 38 Tenn. Code Ann. 39-13-203(b) (1997) Van Tran v. State, 66 S. W. 3d 790, 798799 (Tenn. 2001).
The Kansas statute defines "mentally retarded" as "having significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning . . . to an extent which substantially impairs one's capacity to appreciate the criminality of one's conduct or to conform one's conduct to the requirements of law." Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4623(e) (2001). This definition of retardation, petitioner concedes, is analogous to the Model Penal Code's definition of a "mental disease or defect" excusing responsibility for criminal conduct, see ALl, Model Penal Code 4.01 (1985), which would not include mild mental retardation. Reply Brief for Petitioner 3, n. 4.
Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. 13-703.02 Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-46a(h) Fla. Stat. 921.137 Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.030(4)-(7) N. C. Gen. Stat. 15A-2005.
In addition to the statutes cited n. 4, supra, see S. D. Codified Laws 23A-27A-26.1 (enacted 2000) Neb. Rev. Stat. 28-105.01(2)-(5) (1998) N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law 400.27(12) (1995) Ind. Code 35-36-9-6 (1994) Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-4623 (1994).
And in some cases positively counterindicative. The Court cites, for example, the views of the United States Catholic Conference, whose members are the active Catholic Bishops of the United States. See ante, at 316, n. 21 (citing Brief for United States Catholic Conference et al. as Amici Curiae 2). The attitudes of that body regarding crime and punishment are so far from being representative, even of the views of Catholics, that they are currently the object of intense national (and entirely ecumenical) criticism.
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Owen được đặt lườn tại xưởng tàu của hãng Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, ở San Francisco, California vào ngày 17 tháng 9 năm 1942. Nó được hạ thủy vào ngày 21 tháng 3 năm 1943 được đỡ đầu bởi bà Hope Owen và nhập biên chế vào ngày 20 tháng 9 năm 1943 dưới quyền chỉ huy của Hạm trưởng, Trung tá Hải quân R. W. Wood.
1943 Sửa đổi
Owen được phân về Hải đội Khu trục 52, và đã hoàn tất việc chạy thử máy ngoài khơi bờ biển California và việc huấn luyện tại khu vực Hawaii kịp thời trước khi gia nhập Lực lượng Đặc nhiệm 58, một lực lượng tàu sân bay nhanh trực thuộc Đệ Ngũ hạm đội, để tham gia Chiến dịch Flintlock. Hoạt động cùng các tàu sân bay trong suốt hần hết Thế Chiến II, nó đã hộ tống lực lượng đi đến mục tiêu, tuần tra phòng không và chống tàu ngầm cho các tàu sân bay cũng như canh phòng và cứu hộ máy bay gặp nạn.
1944 Sửa đổi
Vào ngày 16 tháng 1 năm 1944, Owen rời Trân Châu Cảng để đi đến quần đảo Marshall. Từ ngày 29 đến ngày 3 tháng 2, nó hộ tống các tàu sân bay thuộc Đội đặc nhiệm 58.2 ngoài khơi Kwajalein, rồi rút lui về Majuro. Từ Majuro, đội của nó không kích xuống Truk vào ngày 16 tháng 2, quay về Trân Châu Cảng một thời gian ngắn, rồi lại đi đến Majuro vào giữa tháng 3.
Owen nằm trong thành phần lực lượng tàu khu trục bảo vệ vòng ngoài cho một lực lượng, bao gồm tàu sân bay được tăng cường thêm thiết giáp hạm và tàu tuần dương, đã rời Majuro vào ngày 22 tháng 3. Và sau khi hoàn thành nhiệm vụ tấn công lên Palau, Yap, Ulithi và Woleai từ ngày 29 tháng 3 đến ngày 1 tháng 4, lực lượng quay trở về Majuro một thời gian ngắn trước khi hướng đến New Guinea nơi họ hỗ trợ cho lực lượng Lục quân bằng các cuộc bắn phá xuống Hollandia, Wakde, Sewar và Sarmi trong các ngày 21-22 tháng 4, và xuống Truk, Satawan và Ponape từ ngày 29 tháng 4 đến ngày 1 tháng 5. Sau đó lực lượng tấn công các đảo Marcus và Wake từ ngày 19 tháng 5 đến ngày 23 tháng 5, rồi chuẩn bị cho Chiến dịch quần đảo Mariana.
Vào ngày 6 tháng 6, lực lượng đặc nhiệm tàu sân bay lại khởi hành từ Majuro. Từ ngày 11 đến ngày 17 tháng 6, máy bay và tàu chiến của lực lượng trải rộng hoạt động khắp từ quần đảo Volcano và quần đảo Bonin cho đến cực Nam quần đảo Mariana, hỗ trợ cho việc chiếm đóng Saipan cũng như ngăn cản phía Nhật Bản tăng viện cho hòn đảo bị bao vây này cũng như cho mục tiêu tiếp theo, Guam. Vào ngày 17 tháng 6, sau khi bảo vệ cho các tàu sân bay tiến hành không kích Saipan, Tinian, Rota và Guam, Owen nhận được tin tức về việc Hạm đội Liên hợp Nhật Bản đang tiến đến từ phía Philippines. Vào ngày 18 tháng 6, nó tiếp tục bảo vệ cho lực lượng tấn công, chờ đợi kết quả cuộc đụng độ giữa hai hạm đội hùng mạnh. Nó hộ tống cho tàu sân bay Bunker Hill vào ngày 19 tháng 6, khi máy bay ném bom bổ nhào Nhật Bản tấn công, mở màn Trận chiến biển Philippine. Trong trận chiến diễn ra hai ngày tiếp theo, vốn đã hầu như tiêu diệt không lực tàu sân bay của Hải quân Nhật Bản, chiếc tàu khu trục tiếp tục hộ tống cho Bunker Hill.
Owen tham gia cuộc tấn công lên đảo Pagan trước một giai đoạn bảo trì ngắn tại Eniwetok. Sang tháng 7, lực lượng tiến hành không kích Iwo Jima, Chichi Jima, Palau, Ulithi và Yap. Đến tháng 8, các hoạt động không kích được thực hiện tại các quần đảo Mariana và quần đảo Bonin. Vào tháng 9, họ không kích lên Palau, Mindanao, Leyte, Luzon và Samar để hỗ trợ cho cuộc đổ bộ lên Palau tiếp nối vào tháng 10 bởi một loạt các đợt xâm nhập vào Biển Đông và biển Hoa Đông. Đến ngày 20 tháng 10, lực lượng hỗ trợ cho các chiến dịch đổ bộ lên Leyte và Samar.
Gặp phải một trục trặc kỹ thuật nồi hơi, Owen lỡ mất các hoạt động tại biển Hoa Đông nó gia nhập trở lại lực lượng đặc nhiệm cho cuộc đổ bộ lên Leyte. Vào ngày 25 tháng 10, nó tạm thời được điều sang Đội đặc nhiệm 34.5 và lên đường để hỗ trợ cho các đơn vị thuộc Lực lượng Đặc nhiệm 77, vốn đã đụng độ với Lực lượng phía Nam của Hạm đội Liên hợp Nhật Bản tìm cách xâm nhập qua eo biển Surigao. Quá nữa đêm, về phía Đông eo biển San Bernardino, họ bắt gặp tàu khu trục Nhật Nowaki và sau vài lượt bắn pháo qua lại, Owen cùng tàu khu trục Miller đã tiếp cận để tiêu diệt mục tiêu, một nhiệm vụ hoàn tất chỉ trong vòng 20 phút. Nowaki bị đắm với tổn thất nhân mạng toàn bộ trên tàu, cùng với những người sống sót từ tàu tuần dương Chikuma mà nó cứu vớt một ngày trước đó.
Các hoạt động không lực tại khu vực Philippines được tiếp nối sang tháng 11. Đến ngày 25 tháng 11, lực lượng rút lui về Ulithi, nơi họ lại khởi hành vào ngày 11 tháng 12 để hỗ trợ cho cuộc đổ bộ lên Mindoro và khống chế không lực Nhật Bản. Tiếp theo là một đợt không kích khác xuống Đài Loan trước khi quay trở lại Philippines hỗ trợ cho chiến dịch đổ bộ lên vịnh Lingayen.
1945 Sửa đổi
Sau cuộc đổ bộ lên Luzon, lực lượng đặc nhiệm tăng cường các hoạt động tại Biển Đông và biển Hoa Đông. Họ liên tục không kích các căn cứ đối phương suốt từ Sài Gòn ở Đông Dương thuộc Pháp cho đến quần đảo Ryūkyū, cũng như thường xuyên đi lên phía Bắc tấn công các trung tâm công nghiệp tại chính quốc Nhật Bản. Vào các ngày từ 19 đến 21 tháng 2 năm 1945, lực lượng hỗ trợ cho cuộc đổ bộ lên Iwo Jima, rồi đi về phía Tây để không kích Tokyo. Đến ngày 1 tháng 3, họ bắt đầu các chiến dịch không kích tăng cường lên Ryūkyū và Nhật Bản, dọn đường cho lực lượng đổ bộ.
Vào ngày 19 tháng 3, một máy bay ném bom bổ nhào đối phương đã vượt qua được hàng rào phòng thủ và ném trúng hai quả bom 500-pound xuống chiếc Franklin (CV-13). Sau các hoạt động cứu hộ ban đầu, Owen được cho tách ra cùng một số tàu khu trục khác để hộ tống chiếc tàu sân bay bị hư hại rút lui về Ulithi.
Owen rời Ulithi vào ngày 5 tháng 4 cho chiến dịch cuối cùng của nó trong chiến tranh. Trong 52 ngày, nó hộ tống cho Đội đặc nhiệm 58.2 hỗ trợ trên không cho lực lượng chiến đấu trong Trận Okinawa cũng như ném bom xuống đảo Kyūshū thuộc chính quốc Nhật Bản. Nó rời khu vực Okinawa vào ngày 28 tháng 5, về đến vịnh Leyte và thả neo tại đây cho đến ngày 20 tháng 6, khi nó lên đường quay trở về Hoa Kỳ. Nó về đến San Francisco, California vào ngày 9 tháng 7, và đang ở tại đây khi chiến tranh kết thúc. Owen xuất biên chế vào ngày 10 tháng 12 năm 1946, được đưa về Hạm đội Dự bị Thái Bình Dương và neo đậu tại San Diego.
1951 - 1958 Sửa đổi
Sau khi Chiến tranh Triều Tiên nổ ra, Owen được cho nhập biên chế trở lại vào ngày 17 tháng 8 năm 1951, trở thành soái hạm của Đội khu trục 282 và trình diện để hoạt động cùng Hạm đội Đại Tây Dương vào tháng 11 năm đó. Nó hoạt động tại khu vực Bắc Đại Tây Dương giá lạnh vào đầu năm 1952, được đại tu tại Xưởng hải quân Charleston, rồi tiếp nối bằng các hoạt động huấn luyện tại vùng biển Caribe.
Owen lên đường cùng đội của nó vào ngày 7 tháng 1 năm 1953, đi ngang qua kênh đào Panama và đi đến Sasebo, Nhật Bản vào ngày 12 tháng 2. Nó gia nhập Đệ Thất hạm đội và tham gia hoạt động tại vùng biển ngoài khơi bán đảo Triều Tiên, luân phiên lượt hoạt động kéo dài năm tháng cùng lực lượng Liên Hiệp Quốc cùng các tàu sân bay nhanh thuộc Lực lượng Đặc nhiệm 77 và Lực lượng Phong tỏa và Hộ tống, tức Lực lượng đặc nhiệm 95. Các hoạt động của nó cùng các tàu sân bay nhanh cũng tương tự như trong Thế Chiến II, bao gồm hộ tống và canh phòng máy bay và nó cùng Lực lượng đặc nhiệm 95 hoạt động tuần tra từ Wonsan đến Chongjin, và phục vụ trong vai trò soái hạm cho các đơn vị Phòng thủ và Phong tỏa Yong Do và Wonsan. Chiếc tàu khu trục đã bảo vệ các đảo, tuần tra duyên hải, bắn phá bờ biển để tiêu diệt các khẩu đội pháo đối phương cùng các phương tiện vận tải và liên lạc, cũng như tham gia phá mìn tại khu vực hoạt động.
Owen rời Sasebo vào ngày 26 tháng 6 để quay trở về Norfolk, Virginia qua ngã kênh đào Suez, hoàn tất chuyến đi vòng quanh thế giới vào ngày 22 tháng 8. Nó tiếp tục ở lại vùng bờ Đông cho đến tháng 1 năm 1954, tiếp nối bởi một đợt bố trí kéo dài ba tháng sang khu vực Địa Trung Hải, rồi trải qua thời gian còn lại của năm hoạt động tại vùng bờ biển Đại Tây Dương. Vào tháng 1 năm 1955, nó được điều động sang Hạm đội Thái Bình Dương, đi đến Long Beach, California vào ngày 26 tháng 1, và được phân về Đội khu trục 192. Từ năm 1955 đến năm 1958, nó luân phiên các hoạt động huấn luyện và đại tu tại khu vực Đông Thái Bình Dương với những lượt bố trí sang khu vực Tây Thái Bình Dương.
Sau lượt phục vụ cuối cùng với Đệ Thất hạm đội vào tháng 12 năm 1957, Owen đi vào Xưởng hải quân Mare Island để chuẩn bị ngừng hoạt động. Owen được cho xuất biên chế vào ngày 27 tháng 5 năm 1958 và được đưa về Hạm đội Dự bị Thái Bình Dương, neo đậu tại Stockton, California. Tên nó được cho rút khỏi danh sách Đăng bạ Hải quân vào ngày 15 tháng 4 năm 1973, và con tàu bị bán để tháo dỡ vào ngày 27 tháng 11 năm 1973.
Owen được tặng thưởng chín Ngôi sao Chiến trận do thành tích phục vụ trong Thế Chiến II, và thêm hai Ngôi sao Chiến trận khác trong Chiến tranh Triều Tiên.
This photo of USS Owen DD 536 personalized print is exactly as you see it with the matte printed around it. You will have the choice of two print sizes, either 8″x10″ or 11″x14″. The print will be ready for framing, or you can add an additional matte of your own choosing then you can mount it in a larger frame. Your personalized print will look awesome when you frame it.
We PERSONALIZE your print of the USS Owen DD 536 with your name, rank and years served and there is NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE for this option. After you place your order you can simply email us or indicate in the notes section of your payment what you would like printed. For example:
United States Navy Sailor
YOUR NAME HERE
Proudly Served: Your Years Here
This would make a nice gift for yourself or that special Navy veteran you may know, therefore, it would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.
The watermark “Great Naval Images” will NOT be on your print.
Media Type Used:
The USS Owen DD 536 photo is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high-resolution printer and should last many years. The unique natural woven texture canvas offers a special and distinctive look that can only be captured on canvas. Most sailors loved his ship. It was his life. Where he had tremendous responsibility and lived with his closest shipmates. As one gets older, the appreciation for the ship and the Navy experience will get stronger. The personalized print shows ownership, accomplishment and an emotion that never goes away. When you walk by the print you will feel the person or the Navy experience in your heart.
We have been in business since 2005 and our reputation for having great products and customer satisfaction is indeed exceptional. You will, therefore, enjoy this product guaranteed.
We are happy to offer a custom US Navy destroyer DD 536 USS Owen embroidered polo shirt.
For an additional (and optional) charge of $7.00, our shirts can be personalized with up to 2 lines of text of 14 characters each (including spaces), such as with a veteran’s last name and rate and rank on the first line, and years of service on the second line.
Our DD 536 USS Owen embroidered polo shirt is 100% preshrunk, 6.5 oz ringspun cotton pique, for comfort and durability. We offer shirt sizes ranging from Adult Small to Adult 3XL (extra charge is applicable to Adult 2XL and 3XL sizes).
Given high embroidery demands on these “made to order” shirts, please allow 4 weeks for shipment.
If you have any questions about our shirt offerings, please contact us at 904-425-1204 or e-mail us at [email protected] , and we will be happy to speak to you!
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Jesse Owens, byname of James Cleveland Owens, (born September 12, 1913, Oakville, Alabama, U.S.—died March 31, 1980, Phoenix, Arizona), American track-and-field athlete who set a world record in the running broad jump (also called long jump) that stood for 25 years and who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. His four Olympic victories were a blow to Adolf Hitler’s intention to use the Games to demonstrate Aryan superiority.
What is Jesse Owens known for?
Jesse Owens was an American athlete. He is best remembered for his performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, where he won gold medals in the long jump, the 100- and 200-metre dashes, and the 4 x 100-metre relay. He was the first American track and field athlete to win four gold medals at a single Olympic Games.
What was Jesse Owens’s life like before the Berlin Olympics?
Jesse Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama. He was the 10th and final child of two sharecroppers his grandparents had been slaves. As a child, Owens picked cotton with his family. He excelled as an athlete in high school and college, breaking three world records in one day at the Ohio State University.
Was Jesse Owens snubbed by Hitler at the Berlin Olympics?
After the Olympics ended, stories claiming that Jesse Owens had been snubbed by Adolf Hitler circulated widely. While it is true that Hitler did not shake hands with Owens, it is worth noting that Hitler did not publicly congratulate any gold medalists after the first day of competition—one day before Owens won his first gold medal. Learn more.
What was Jesse Owens’s life like after the Berlin Olympics?
Jesse Owens struggled to find work after the Olympics. He raced against horses for money and worked as a gas station attendant and a playground janitor. Using his fame to his advantage, Owens began working in public relations in the 1950s, traveling the country and making paid appearances at public events.
How did Jesse Owens die?
A heavy smoker, Jesse Owens died of lung cancer on March 31, 1980, in Tucson, Arizona. He was 66. Four years after his death, a street in Berlin was renamed in his honour. In 1990 Owens was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
As a student in a Cleveland high school, Owens won three events at the 1933 National Interscholastic Championships in Chicago. In one day, May 25, 1935, while competing for Ohio State University (Columbus) in a Western (later Big Ten) Conference track-and-field meet at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Owens equaled the world record for the 100-yard dash (9.4 sec) and broke the world records for the 220-yard dash (20.3 sec), the 220-yard low hurdles (22.6 sec), and the long jump (8.13 metres [26.67 feet]).
Owens’s performance at the 1936 Berlin Olympics has become legend, both for his brilliant gold-medal efforts in the 100-metre run (10.3 sec, an Olympic record), the 200-metre run (20.7 sec, a world record), the long jump (8.06 metres [26.4 feet]), and the 4 × 100-metre relay (39.8 sec) and for events away from the track. One popular tale that arose from Owens’s victories was that of the “snub,” the notion that Hitler refused to shake hands with Owens because he was an African American. In truth, by the second day of competition, when Owens won the 100-metre final, Hitler had decided to no longer publicly congratulate any of the athletes. The previous day the International Olympic Committee president, angry that Hitler had publicly congratulated only a few German and Finnish winners before leaving the stadium after the German competitors were eliminated from the day’s final event, insisted that the German chancellor congratulate all or none of the victors. Unaware of the situation, American papers reported the “snub,” and the myth grew over the years.
Despite the politically charged atmosphere of the Berlin Games, Owens was adored by the German public, and it was German long jumper Carl Ludwig (“Luz”) Long who aided Owens through a bad start in the long jump competition. Owens was flustered to learn that what he had thought was a practice jump had been counted as his first attempt. Unsettled, he foot-faulted the second attempt. Before Owens’s last jump, Long suggested that the American place a towel in front of the take-off board. Leaping from that point, Owens qualified for the finals, eventually beating Long (later his close friend) for the gold.
For a time, Owens held alone or shared the world records for all sprint distances recognized by the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF later International Association of Athletics Federations). After retiring from competitive track, Owens engaged in boys’ guidance activities, made goodwill visits to India and East Asia for the U.S. Department of State, served as secretary of the Illinois State Athletic Commission, and worked in public relations. In 1976 Owens received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 1990 he was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Adam Augustyn, Managing Editor, Reference Content.