Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



In Atkins v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court declared a ban on all executions of mentally retarded persons. This declaration, however, rings hollow for those mentally retarded defendants and inmates who continue to face death sentences as a result of the inconsistent enforcement of Atkins across jurisdictions. One issue in particular-whether to adjust intelligence-test scores for the phenomenon known as the Flynn Effect-has caused inconsistency among courts and has sparked a contentious battle among experts. It blurs the already-precarious line between life and death. And yet, the Flynn Effect captivates capital defendants and inmates with its promise of adjusting intelligence-test scores and of providing a more intelligent and just approach to Atkins.