Modal close

Hi there,

You trust Democracy Now! to bring you the news stories and global headlines you won't find anywhere else. But did you know that Democracy Now! never accepts money from advertisers, corporate underwriters or governments? This allows us to maintain the editorial independence you rely on—but it also means we need your help. If everyone seeing this gave just $4 a month, it would more than cover our expenses for the entire year—and today a donor will DOUBLE your first month. Please do your part. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else. Thank you so much!
-Amy Goodman

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

Default content image
Media Options

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.

Related Story

Video squareStorySep 11, 2019“We Are Striking to Disrupt the System”: An Hour with 16-Year-Old Climate Activist Greta Thunberg
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
Up arrowTop