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Eye for eye, and soon the whole world will be blind!



Atkins will be condemned because he has become intelligent

23/10/2005: United States

A young African-American waiting on death row in Virginia, U.S.A., for the day of his execution to arrive, would not make the headlines and would only be a story among many others likewise condemned to death (in the name of a law that arouses revolt in each civilised conscience). But the story of Daryl Atkins has reached the summit of cruelty: the condemned is mentally retarded.
He was eighteen years of age when he killed a man to steal 200 dollars. Throughout his trial, he was diagnosed with an I.Q. of 59, but this child’s brain has not spared him from condemnation to death. It was the Supreme Court that saved him in 2002, in a well-known judgement, judging the sentence contrary to the Constitution because the Court considered that the execution of a mentally retarded person to be an abnormal cruelty.
But this was only a pause. Now the condemned has been submitted to new intelligence tests and a jury has decided that his I.Q. has risen to 76. Could it have been that the effects of the trial, the recourse to escape death, the readings of the trial procedures, the meetings with lawyers (when he was in the arms of death) sharpened his weak intelligence, such that he attained the fateful threshold that rendered him apt for his meeting with the executioner? It does indeed seem so and for that reason he must be executed.
It seems that the pain of death previewed by the law for a mentally retarded person cannot be applied because the condemned must be aware of the suffering of death. It is with the same atrocity that the torturers of the past acted, when they ceased their whipping when the victim fainted, only to start once more as soon as the person had regained consciousness.
This form of justice ‘eye for eye’ sends a signal not only to the conscience but also to the intelligence. No need to bother the Gospel, we only need to remember the words of Gandhi: “Eye for eye, and soon the entire world will become blind!”

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