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June 5, 2019

"IQ, Culpability, and the Criminal Law’s Gray Area: Why the Rationale for Reducing the Culpability of Juveniles and Intellectually Disabled Adults Should Apply to Low-IQ Adults"

The title of this post is the title of this new article available via SSRN authored by Adam Lamparello.  Here is its abstract:

For too long, the criminal law has only provided legal protections for defendants who exist on the margins, namely, those who suffer from mental retardation, insanity, or are too young to appreciate the consequences of criminal conduct.  In so doing, the criminal law has failed to address the gray area in which most defendants reside, and for which all defendants lack sufficient legal protections.  For example, at the guilt/innocence phase of a criminal trial, the legal system offers little, if any protections, for defendants afflicted with mental illnesses, personality disorders, neurological impairments, and borderline intellectual functioning.  This is fundamentally unjust, contrary to relevant empirical evidence regarding the effects of cognitive, psychiatric, and psychological disorders on culpability, and results in profoundly unjust sentences that, in many cases, are entirely disproportionate to a defendant’s culpability.  As such, the time has arrived for the courts and legislators to recognize that defendants need not be intellectually disabled, insane, or under the age of eighteen to trigger legal and constitutional protections at the guilt/innocence phase that account for a defendant’s reduced or, even, zero culpability in certain cases.

June 5, 2019 at 09:17 AM | Permalink


t comes down to "mens rea" and the ability to form criminal intent, to appreciate the wrongfulness of one's actions and conduct. Many people with I.Q.s below 80 don't think very logically or rationally; they can be impulsive and dominated by feelings and emotions instead of logical thoughs.

Posted by: James Gormley | Jun 5, 2019 9:33:03 AM

I think it should depend heavily on the crime. If the crime grievously hurt another person, I would not be willing to cut them much if any slack.

Posted by: William Jockusch | Jun 5, 2019 7:58:39 PM

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