The Fair Punishment Project (FPP) is a joint project of Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice and its Criminal Justice Institute. FPP’s mission is to address the ways in which our laws and criminal legal system contribute to excessive punishment. FPP has conducted original research into how the death penalty functions in practice, including an extensive analysis of the records of the eight men that Arkansas has scheduled for execution this month. Our research, both in Arkansas and generally, establishes that the death penalty is not a punishment reserved for the most culpable people, but instead is routinely imposed upon people with severe intellectual and mental impairments–functional deficits that rival or outpace juvenile status and intellectual disability in their detrimental effect on a person’s reasoning and judgment. Kenneth Williams’s case illustrates this problem, and accordingly we have submitted an amicus brief arguing that the death penalty must be reserved for people with the most extreme moral culpability; Arkansas exemplifies the endemic inability of states to limit the death penalty to people with the most extreme culpability; and the U.S. Supreme Court should end the failed experiment with capital punishment, including in Mr. Williams’s case.
Read the brief: