In the News

Developmental Disability Groups Advocate Change in Death Penalty Law

The following is an article in The Atlanta Journal Constitution, featuring comments from GCDD Executive Director Eric Jacobson on the need to change Georgia's "beyond a reasonable doubt" policy in regards to the death penalty.

The Atllanta Journal Constitution, 7/12/13, Click here to read online.

Developmental disability groups advocate change in death penalty law
The Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Chelsea Cariker-Prince

Georgia developmental disability advocacy groups are fighting to change the Georgia law that allows a death sentence for Warren Lee Hill.

Atlanta groups All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) and the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), with the Center for Leadership and Disability at Georgia State University, held a press conference Thursday in a last-ditch effort to save Hill, who is scheduled to die on Monday.

Hill is on death row despite the objections of doctors who say he is intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty, according to a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Now, it's up to the Supreme Court to decide whether to stay the execution.

Georgia requires a uniquely high burden of proof for mental retardation — "beyond a reasonable doubt" — which advocates say is due to an outdated understanding of what is nationally considered intellectual disability. Instead, courts should determine intellectual disability by a "preponderance of evidence," a lesser standard, advocates said.

"We in Georgia have to think about how we protect the individuals ... among the most vulnerable people in our population," said Eric Jacobson, executive director of GCDD.

Hill was convicted in 1990 of murdering his cellmate while already serving a life sentence for the murder of his girlfriend.