Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the standoff at Standing Rock or news about the movements fighting for peace, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How is this possible? Only with your support. If every visitor to this site in December gave just $10 we could cover our basic operating costs for 2017. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2017.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.


Recordings of An Execution: The Electrocution of a Mentally Retarded Man

StoryMay 03, 2001
Watch iconWatch Full Show

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of persons with mental retardation did not constitute crueland unusual punishment. Writing for the majority in the 5-4 case, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor concluded that therewas no national consensus against such executions because only two states prohibited them. Since then, the number ofstates that legislatively exempt mentally retarded persons from the death penalty has grown to fourteen. Arizonaadopted the law only one week ago. The federal government also bans such executions.

The United States is one of two countries in the world whose laws expressly permit the execution of persons withsevere mental disabilities. At least thirty-five mentally retarded people have been executed in the United Statessince 1976. An estimated two to three hundred mentally retarded prisoners currently await execution on death row.

Two weeks ago the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Ernest McCarver, a death row inmate in North Carolinawith mental retardation. The Court will consider whether executing those with mental retardation now offendssociety’s "evolving standards of decency" and thus violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusualpunishment.

Now we will hear the execution of Ivon Ray Stanley, who was electrocuted on July 12, 1984 in Jackson, Georgia.Stanley was an accomplice, but not the trigger man, in the murder of an insurance man. The killer himself, who hadaccess to better representation, had his death sentence commuted to life in prison. Ivon Ray Stanley had an IQ of62.


  • Execution of Ivon Ray Stanley on July 12, 1984 in Jackson, Georgia


  • George Kendall, last attorney for Ivon Ray Stanley, staff attorney of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.

Make a donation