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The question of how individuals with severe mental disabilities should be sentenced when they are convicted of capital (death penalty) crimes is a vexing one in U.S. society. On one hand, the death penalty is an established part of the criminal justice system in the United States, which exists in part as a reflection of our society's outrage in response to certain kinds of violent crime. On the other hand, in the words of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, a society's “evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society” require that we recognize that there must be exceptions to this most extreme form of punishment. This entry describes the Resolution of the American Bar Association on Mental Disability ...

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