In a 4-3 vote, the Arkansas Parole Board recommended that Frank Williams’ death sentence be commuted to life without parole. The Board had received petitions for clemency from 13 state, national, and international organizations and developmental disabilities experts which concluded that Mr. Williams suffers from mental retardation based on his sub-average adaptive functioning and the diagnosis of psychological experts. The requests for clemency emphasized the fact that executing a mentally retarded person is unconstitutional based on both Arkansas’ 1993 statutory ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia. Courts have not reviewed the evidence of Mr. Williams’ mental retardation because neither his trial lawyer nor his post-conviction appeals attorney raised this issue. The appellate courts have concluded that Williams is now barred from proving his mental retardation because it was not presented earlier.

The recommendation for clemency now goes to Governor Mike Beebe, who will decide whether to accept the Board’s recommendation or allow the execution to go forward as scheduled on September 9th.
(R. Moritz, “Parole board recommends clemency for condemned killer,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 6, 2008). See Mental Retardation and Clemency. (This is a revised version of an item posted earlier.)