“France is expressing its concern for Warren Hill’s situation, an American citizen who has shown signs of being mentally disabled, and was condemned to death in 1991 by the state of Georgia,” said Bernard Valero, the spokesperson from the French ministry of foreign affairs.
Georgia eliminated capital punishment for the mentally disabled in 1988, but it requires that the prisoner prove retardation beyond a reasonable doubt. In 2002, the Supreme Court banned the death penalty for mentally disabled prisoners, but left it at the discretion of each state to decide who falls into that category.
Mild retardation is defined by a person with an IQ level between 50-70 points. In the case of Hill, tests had shown him to have an IQ of 70. However the state of Georgia has one of the highest standards for death penalty defendants who raise such claims.
France made its appeal to the state of Georgia, as a “first step to abolishing the death penalty” worldwide, added Valero. The death penalty was officially banned in France in 1981, with the last prisoner executed in 1977.