Letters to the Editor: October 1 -7, 2015
Execution of Intellectually Disabled Inmate is Wrong
Our Commonwealth is preparing to commit an irreversible wrong: the execution of Mr. Alfredo Prieto on Thursday, October 1, at 9 p.m.
Mr. Prieto, who has been found to have IQ scores of 64, 66 and 73, has not received a fair assessment of whether he has an intellectual disability and is constitutionally eligible for the death penalty. When Mr. Prieto was sentenced, Virginia courts were applying a definition of intellectual disability that has since been deemed unconstitutional (Hall v. Florida ). Procedural rules in the Commonwealth prevent our courts from rectifying this past use of a flawed standard of intellectual disability.
Mr. Prieto, however, can receive constitutional determination of an intellectual disability if Governor McAuliffe issues a reprieve and authorizes Mr. Prieto’s transfer to California, where he has also been convicted of crimes, and where a request for a hearing to determine his disability is currently pending.
I have written to Governor McAuliffe requesting that he intervene as described, or else commute Mr. Prieto’s sentence to life imprisonment. Although the governor issued a statement on Monday evening saying he does not intend to intervene, I encourage News-Press readers to reach out to him as well. You can use the contact form at governor.virginia.gov, call 804-786-2211, and Tweet to @GovernorVA.
Last week, many of us were riveted on the visit of Pope Francis. When addressing our Congress, he called for the global abolition of the death penalty. Indeed, in this era – in which the security of our Commonwealth can be guaranteed without capital punishment – execution of a criminal is a misuse of state power. In the case at hand, the possibility that a disabled person may suffer an unjust and irrevocable punishment adds impetus to the need to prevent this state-sanctioned killing.
Member, Virginia House of Delegates, 38th District
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