Print Friendly HOUSE BILL NO. 629 – Death pnlty, mentally retarded prsn
HOUSE BILL NO. 629
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H0629................................by JUDICIARY, RULES AND ADMINISTRATION
DEATH PENALTY - MENTALLY RETARDED PERSON - Adds to existing law to prohibit
the imposition of the death penalty upon a mentally retarded person.
02/12 House intro - 1st rdg - to printing
02/13 Rpt prt - to Jud
|||| LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF IDAHO ||||
Fifty-sixth Legislature Second Regular Session - 2002
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
HOUSE BILL NO. 629
BY JUDICIARY, RULES AND ADMINISTRATION COMMITTEE
1 AN ACT
2 RELATING TO THE DEATH PENALTY; AMENDING CHAPTER 25, TITLE 19, IDAHO CODE, BY
3 THE ADDITION OF A NEW SECTION 19-2515A, IDAHO CODE, TO PROHIBIT IMPOSITION
4 OF THE DEATH PENALTY UPON A MENTALLY RETARDED PERSON.
5 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Idaho:
6 SECTION 1. That Chapter 25, Title 19, Idaho Code, be, and the same is
7 hereby amended by the addition thereto of a NEW SECTION, to be known and des-
8 ignated as Section 19-2515A, Idaho Code, and to read as follows:
9 19-2515A. IMPOSITION OF DEATH PENALTY UPON MENTALLY RETARDED PERSON --
10 PROHIBITED. (1) As used in this section:
11 (a) "Defendant" includes an adult, or a minor under the age of eighteen
12 (18) years who is tried as an adult.
13 (b) "Mentally retarded" shall mean substantial limitations in present
14 functioning characterized by significantly subaverage intellectual func-
15 tioning, existing concurrently with related limitations in two (2) or more
16 of the following applicable adaptive skill areas: communication, self-
17 care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health
18 and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work, which is manifested
19 before age eighteen (18) years.
20 (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the death penalty shall
21 not be carried out upon any person who is mentally retarded.
22 (3) In any case in which the state has provided notice of an intent to
23 seek the death penalty pursuant to section 18-4004A, Idaho Code, the defendant
24 may, at a reasonable time prior to the commencement of the trial, apply for an
25 order directing that a mental retardation hearing be conducted. The court
26 shall promptly conduct a hearing without a jury to determine whether the
27 defendant is mentally retarded. If the court finds, by a preponderance of the
28 evidence, that the defendant is mentally retarded, it shall preclude the death
29 penalty and trial thereafter shall be conducted as in any other case in which
30 the sentence of death is not sought by the state.
31 (4) Nothing in this section is intended to alter or change the applica-
32 tion of any rule of evidence or to limit or extend the right of any party to
33 assert any claim or defense otherwise available to that party.
34 (5) In any case in which the defendant was sentenced to death prior to
35 enactment of this section, the defendant shall have the right to invoke the
36 protections of this section through a petition for post-conviction relief,
37 which shall be considered on the merits. If a court finds, by a preponderance
38 of the evidence, that the defendant is mentally retarded as defined by this
39 section, the death sentence shall be vacated and the defendant shall be
40 resentenced to confinement in the state prison for life without the possibil-
41 ity of parole.
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The laws that permit the death penalty require that punishment by
death be reserved for the select few individuals who are the most
culpable, the most deserving of such ultimate and irreversible
punishment. Two essential ingredients of any defendant's moral
culpability are his level of intellectual functioning and his
capacity to control and appreciate the wrongfulness of his behavior.
In both respects, a person with mental retardation is inherently
less culpable than his unimpaired counterparts. Mental retardation
is a severe and permanent mental impairment that affects almost
every aspect of a mentally retarded person's life. Because of the
diminished mental capacity and impaired moral reasoning caused by
mental retardation, mentally retarded individuals can never fully
be in the class of "most culpable" and therefore deserving of the
This bill would prohibit imposition or execution of the death
penalty upon any person who has been determined to be mentally
retarded. This bill would define the term "mentally retarded" and
would provide that a defendant in any case in which the prosecution
has given notice of an intent to seek the death penalty may apply
for an order directing that a mental retardation hearing be held.
This bill also provides that a defendant with mental retardation
currently under sentence of death may petition for post-conviction
relief and be re-sentenced to confinement in the state prison for
life without the possibility of parole.
Every serious study of the cost of capital punishment has concluded
that it is significantly more expensive than life in prison without
the possibility of parole. Capital cases are more complex;
require more attention and have higher burdens associated with them.
As such, they divert significant resources- fiscal and personnel-
that could be used elsewhere.
The most comprehensive study in the country found that the death
penalty costs North Carolina $2.16 million per execution over the
costs of a non-death penalty murder case ending with a sentence of
imprisonment for life. The extra costs associated only with the
death penalty were estimated to cost North Carolina $4 million
per year (Duke University, May, 1993).
Name: David Bieter
Name: Marty Durand
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE/FISCAL NOTE H 629