Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Mrs. Rosalynn Carter renewed their appeal today to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the death sentence of Warren Lee Hill, who is scheduled to be executed later today. Mr. Hill's intellectual disability meets the criteria of "mental retardation" as grounds for exemption from the death penalty under a Georgia law put in place well before the U.S. Supreme Court found the execution of the "mentally retarded" as a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Three psychiatrists, whose expert testimony in 2000 was used to support a death sentence for Mr. Hill, have all changed their original diagnosis, stating that he definitely meets the criteria for "mental retardation."
President and Mrs. Carter wrote a letter to the Board on July 5, 2012, urging clemency for Hill and are now calling on the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles or the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. "Georgia should not violate its own prohibition against executing individuals with serious diminished capacity," said President Carter. "Rather, the Board of Pardons and Paroles should commute Warren Hill's death sentence in light of the decisive assessment of psychiatric experts that Hill clearly meets the standard for 'mental retardation' under Georgia law. If Georgia does not vacate the death sentence, it will fall to the U.S. Supreme Court to enforce its own ruling in Atkins vs. Virginia that the execution of those who suffer from mental retardation violates the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment."