Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Huntsville, Texas – Yesterday at 6:27 p.m. Marvin Wilson age 54 was pronounced dead and marked the seventh execution this year with nine more lined up to be killed in the next few months in the active death penalty state of Texas.
It’s been reported that the man was mentally disabled; however, the courts said he was fit to stand trial and receive his punishment. Whether he was disabled or not, what I find troubling with is how the state of Texas is becoming assembly line executioners. According to the Bureau of Justice, the state houses the largest population of inmates waiting to be executed.
Supreme Court Justice Scalia denied the petition for a stay of execution hours before the State of Texas killed Wilson. Lee Kovarsky, Wilson’s attorney sent out this statement after the ruling:
“We are gravely disappointed and profoundly saddened that the United States Supreme Court has refused to intervene to prevent tonight’s scheduled execution of Marvin Wilson, who has an I.Q. of 61, placing him below the first percentile of human intelligence. Ten years ago, this Court categorically barred states from executing people with mental retardation. Yet, tonight Texas will end the life of a man who was diagnosed with mental retardation by a court-appointed, board certified specialist.
“It is outrageous that the state of Texas continues to utilize unscientific guidelines, called the Briseño factors, to determine which citizens with intellectual disability are exempt from execution. The Briseño factors are not scientific tools; they are the decayed remainder of an uninformed stereotype that has been widely discredited by the nation’s leading groups on intellectual disability, including the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. That neither the courts nor state officials have stopped this execution is not only a shocking failure of a once-promising constitutional commitment, it is also a reminder that, as a society, we haven’t come quite that far in understanding how so many of those around us live with intellectual disabilities.”
What is even more troubling is the court based their ruling on a fictional character out of a John Steinback novel. His son, Thomas Steinbeck told the Huffington Post:
“Prior to reading about Mr. Wilson’s case, I had no idea that the great state of Texas would use a fictional character that my father created to make a point about human loyalty and dedication, as a benchmark to identify whether defendants with an intellectual disability should live or die. I am certain that if my father, John Steinbeck, were here, he would be deeply angry and ashamed to see his work used in this way.”
I sometimes wonder which century I am living in. I believe history will record it as a barbaric one.