The Arc, which advocates for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, just delivered the following letter to TX Governor Perry.
You’ll also find a press release from the Arc below.
May 12, 2014
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757
RE: Executive Clemency, Commutation of Death Sentence to Life Imprisonment for Robert Campbell
Dear Governor Perry, Chairman Owens, and Board Members of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles:
We write on behalf of The Arc of the United States to urge that, on the basis of his intellectual disability (ID), the death sentence of Robert Campbell be commuted to life without possibility of parole.
In its 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the special risk of wrongful execution faced by persons with ID (formerly termed “mental retardation”) and banned the execution of persons with ID as cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. 536 U.S. 304.
News reports indicate that Mr. Campbell has been found by a highly qualified psychologist to have a diagnosis of intellectual disability with an IQ of 69. Additional evidence suggests the state of Texas and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice withheld two prior IQ tests showing an IQ of 68 from a test during elementary school, and 71 from his prison records. We note Judge Alcala’s statement in her dissenting opinion: “It now falls to the federal courts and Governor Perry to ensure that Mr. Campbell, a person with mental retardation, will not be executed as a result of this disturbing violation by State officials of his most basic due process rights.”
The actions of state officials have created a gross miscarriage of justice regarding counsel’s efforts to appeal Mr. Campbell’s sentence. The Arc is committed to seeking lawful outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities and will continue working to ensure that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this issue is abided by in jurisdictions across the country.
The Arc is a non-profit organization which, for over 60 years, has dedicated itself to altering perceptions of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to the education of the public about the true potential of persons with this diagnosis. Over the decades, The Arc has advocated for the passage of state and federal legislation on behalf of people with disabilities and established a broad network of state and local chapters that support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across the country. In addition to our longstanding interest in actively seeking justice in death penalty cases involving individuals with intellectual disabilities, The Arc of the United States recently received a grant from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance to start The National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD). Backed by the knowledge of dedicated criminal justice professionals, we urge you to prevent a miscarriage of justice and commute the death sentence of Robert Campbell to life without possibility of parole.
Peter V. Berns
Chief Executive Officer
The Arc of the United States
Amy Mizcles, LMSW
The Arc of Texas
For Immediate Release
May 12, 2014
The Arc Responds to the Scheduled Execution of Robert Campbell
Washington, DC – The Arc released the following statement about the scheduled execution of Robert Campbell, an individual with intellectual disability (ID). Campbell is scheduled to be executedtomorrow (Tuesday, May 13) at 6 pm in Texas, despite evidence showing he has ID. It has been reported that the state of Texas and The Texas Department of Criminal Justice withheld two prior IQ tests within the range for ID, showing an IQ of 68 from a test during elementary school, and 71 from his prison records. In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled in the Atkins v. Virginia case that executing inmates with ID is unconstitutional because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
“We are extremely disappointed that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Robert Campbell’s appeal despite clear evidence showing that he has intellectual disability. To ignore experts and cross the line drawn by a more than decade-old Supreme Court ruling shakes the foundation of our legal system for people with intellectual disabilities. It is unconscionable that key evidence about Mr. Campbell’s IQ was withheld in this life or death situation. The Arc asks the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to take up this case immediately to ensure that Mr. Campbell’s disability is taken into account and justice can truly be served.
“The Arc is committed to fighting for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and will continue our legal advocacy work to make sure the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on this issue is abided by in jurisdictions across the country,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.
Through a two-year grant for $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), The Arc is developing the National Center on Criminal Justice and Disability. This project is creating a national clearinghouse for research, information, evaluation, training and technical assistance for justice and disability professionals and other advocates that will build their capacity to better identify and meet the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), whose disability often goes unrecognized. Providing accurate, effective and consistent training for criminal justice professionals is critical.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.