Death row inmate challenges Florida’s definition of mental disability

Death row inmate challenges Florida’s definition of mental disability

A person from Florida with an IQ as high as 75 may be diagnosed as mentally disabled and be eligible for help getting a job. But on death row, Florida says having an IQ higher than 70 means an inmate is not mentally disabled and may be executed.

The supreme court barred states from executing mentally disabled inmates in 2002, but until now has left the determination of who is mentally disabled to the states.
In arguments on Monday, a 68-year-old Florida inmate, Freddie Lee Hall, is challenging the state’s use of a rigid IQ cutoff to determine mental disability.

Florida is among a few states that use a score of 70, as measured by IQ tests, as the threshold for concluding an inmate is not mentally disabled, even when other evidence indicates he is.

“Simply put, IQ tests are not a perfect measure of a person’s intellectual ability,” Hall’s lawyers told the court in written arguments.

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