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45 Years of Impact Spotlight

Advocating Against Cruel and Unusual Punishment of Disabled People

Disability Rights Pennsylvania is committed to ensuring the criminal justice system is free from discrimination and that all individuals, regardless of disability, are treated fairly and equally.

In 2003, DRP submitted an amicus brief in an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania concerning the imposition of the death penalty on a defendant diagnosed with an intellectual disability. This case raised issues concerning the appropriate standard to be used in determining whether a defendant has an intellectual disability. Our amicus brief argued that the court should apply the most medical recent definition adopted in 2002 rather than a forensic standard. The court ultimately agreed and vacated the defendant’s death penalty sentenced and replaced it with a life sentence.