Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush is backing a Texas court’s decision to execute a mentally retarded man convicted of raping and murdering a 24-year-old woman. Bush supports the sentence despite the fact that 13 of the 36 states with capital punishment bar the execution of the mentally retarded. In a 1989 ruling, the Supreme Court said that executing the mentally retarded was “cruel and unusual punishment.” Oliver Cruz has an IQ between 64 and 76, and has spent his life doing menial work because he does not have the mental ability to negotiate a job application. He is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, August 9.
This is not the first case in which Bush has condoned the execution of a mentally retarded inmate. He refused pardon for a mentally retarded man executed in January of 1995; the inmate’s lawyer described him as child-like. Doil Lane, a death-row inmate, has an IQ between 62 and 70, and his emotional and intellectual development is that of an 8-year-old. Experts say that the mentally retarded often give false confessions in an effort to please. Furthermore, they are often poor, and are represented by appointed lawyers who lack the experience and competence to present evidence of mental retardation early enough in their cases.