Action Alert-SB 401: Help to Stop the Execution of People with Intellectual Disabilities in GA!

posted Feb 19, 2016, 7:49 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah

Action Alert:  Please Urge your Legislators to Support Changing the Standard of Proof for Intellectual Disability in Death Penalty Cases to Preponderance of the Evidence!

SB 401 has been introduced in the Senate by Senator Elena Parent and will change the standard of proof placed on individuals with intellectual disabilities in death penalty cases in Georgia from “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” to “Preponderance of the Evidence.” You can read the legislation here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20152016/SB/401


The issue: Georgia is the only state in the country that uses the most difficult standard of proof in order to meet the legal standard of Intellectual Disability in death penalty cases, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” This standard is a fairly challenging legal obstacle to overcome, and Georgia is an outlier in requiring it.  Of the 33 jurisdictions that still have the death penalty, 22 use the standard of “Preponderance of the Evidence.” Because of Georgia’s incredibly high standard of proof, Georgia continues to execute people with intellectual disabilities, including Warren Lee Hill, who the State of Georgia executed on January 27, 2015. Had Mr. Hill been convicted of the same crime in any other state, he would not have been eligible for the death penalty.

How you can help: Please take a moment to write or call your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support SB 401 and change the standard of proof to Preponderance of the Evidence.

If you don’t already know who you legislators are, you can look them up using your mailing address here: http://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/ 

We also encourage you to contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee (listed below) and urge them to support SB 401 and change the standard of proof to Preponderance of the Evidence!

Senator Jesse Stone http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=748&Session=24

Senator William T. Ligon, Jr. http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=746&Session=24 

Senator John F. Kennedy http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=852&Session=24

Senator Joshua McKoon http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=749&Session=24 

Senator Charlie Bethel http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=753&Session=24

Senator Mike Crane http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=798&Session=24

Senator Vincent Fort http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=12&Session=24 

Senator Hunter Hill http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=803&Session=24 

Senator Harold V. Jones II http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=851&Session=24 

Senator Elena Parent http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/Member.aspx?Member=768&Session=24 (Bill Sponsor)

 

Sample Letter:

Dear Senator or Representative [Insert Last Name],

My name is [Insert Your Name] and I am a Georgia voter from [insert here].

I am writing you to ask that you support SB 401 and change Georgia’s standard for proving intellectual disability to “Preponderance of the Evidence” in death penalty cases. Despite voluntarily banning the execution of people with intellectual disabilities 14 years before the 2002 Atkins v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling on this issue, Georgia is the only state in the country that uses the most difficult standard of proof in order to meet the legal standard of Intellectual Disability (formerly called ‘mental retardation’), “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” This standard is an extremely difficult legal obstacle to overcome, and Georgia is an outlier in requiring it. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities continue to be executed in Georgia. 

[State any additional reasons you support this change here. Include a personal story related to this issue if you have one you are comfortable sharing]

Please get Georgia back on the right side of history and support SB 401.

Sincerely,

[Insert Your Name]

[Insert Your Contact Information]


For more information on this issue, you can review our overview fact sheet on the topic here: http://gcdd.org/images/Blogs/2016/January_2016_ID_and_DP_Fact_Sheet_FINAL_1-19-16.docx

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