Texas executed a death-row inmate this week despite evidence that the man had an IQ of only 61. Marvin Wilson, 54, was convicted of killing a police informant in 1992, but his lawyers argued that he should have been spared lethal injection because he was below the IQ threshold of 70 used by most states. The U.S. Supreme Court banned executions of mentally deficient prisoners in 2002, but left it up to states to define mental impairment. Texas’s standards are among the most restrictive in the country. Courts there ruled that Wilson’s low IQ was determined by a single, unreliable test. In setting its benchmark for mental disability, Texas courts cited John Steinbeck’s character Lennie from Of Mice and Men, arguing that a mentally handicapped person can still be responsible for his acts.
– The Week, August 17, 2012