John Steinbeck's Son Thinks Texas Should Stop Using Dad's Character to Decide Which Mentally Retarded Prisoners to Execute

Categories: Crime

MarvinWilson.jpg
Marvin Wilson will be executed tonight because courts determined he's smarter than Lenny from Of Mice and Men
Lennie Small was the simple-minded field worker in Of Mice and Men who, in a moment of confused panic, inadvertently kills the wife of the boss' son. He's an iconic character in American literature, so iconic that Texas used him as a benchmark to help decide when it's okay to execute intellectually disabled prisoners.

In the wake of a 2002 Supreme Court ruling that banned executions of mentally retarded prisoners, Texas developed the "Briseno factors," seven criteria used to determine if a prisoner is mentally fit enough to be executed. Those criteria were based on the court's determination that, "Most Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt."

The issue is resurfacing now because 54-year-old Marvin Wilson is scheduled to die of lethal injection at 6 p.m. this evening. Wilson has an IQ of 61 and reportedly can't tie his shoelaces or match socks, but he was convicted of killing a police drug informant in 1992 and was sentenced to death. Wilson's attorneys have argued that he does not have the mental competence to be executed and that doing so would amount to cruel and unusual punishment. Those pleas have been ignored by the courts.

But on the eve of Wilson's execution, Thomas Steinbeck, son of the late novelist, is objecting to the use of his late father's character to determine who is fit to be put to death.

"I find the whole premise to be insulting, outrageous, ridiculous, and profoundly tragic," he said in a statement reported by the Texas Tribune. His father's work "was certainly not meant to be scientific, and the character of Lennie was never intended to be used to diagnose a medical condition like intellectual disability."

Human Rights Watch and various others are objecting to Wilson's execution on the grounds that it violates Wilson's Constitutional rights. But this is Texas. Wilson will be getting the needle at 6 o'clock sharp.

My Voice Nation Help
24 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster

Evil is as evil does.

 

Let the man get his just dessert.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Texas "right-to-life" ignoramuses salivate over executions.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

What has Thomas Steinbeck written?

 

I give a shit about his opinion even less than asking former Cowboys about this year's team.

 

Dude was convicted, right? So now we have different classifications for death row inmates? 

mickeymo7
mickeymo7

This is another perfect example of irresponsible reporting from the Observer.  Only give half the facts, and you can make your case every time.

 

You say "those pleas have been ignored by the courts"?  No.  The courts heard the case... arguments from both sides.  But lower courts agreed with state attorneys, who argued that Wilson's claim was  based on a single test that may have been faulty and that his mental impairment  claim isn't supported by other tests and assessments of him over the years.  Records show Wilson habitually gave less than full effort and "was manipulative  and deceitful when it suited his interest," and that the state considered his  ability to show personal independence and social responsibility in making its  determinations. 

 

From now on... report the whole story. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Wilson abducted and shot 21-year-old Jerry Robert Williams following a physical confrontation between the two in the 1500 block of Verone in Beaumont. At the time of the murder, Wilson had two previous convictions for robbery.

 

I don't care if this guy had the IQ of Jimmy Holmes, the Batman shooter.

 

See ya, Marvin.

 

wouldn't wanna beeya.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

"Thomas Steinbeck, son of the late novelist, is objecting to the use of his late father's character to determine who is fit to be put to death."

 

why should I care what this guy thinks?

JoeBlow
JoeBlow

Eric,

 

I don't disagree with your opposition to the death penalty in this particular case, but you do a serious disservice to your readers and to your credibility by suggesting that the test applied by Texas courts is somehow derived from Lennie Small in Of Mice and Men.  It wasn't.   

 

And this is where you missed the opportunity to inform by looking instead for an angle.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals completely made up the "Briseno factors."  It doesn't even bother to cite a source for its list of "evidentiary factors which factfinders in the criminal trial context might also focus upon in weighing evidence as indicative of mental retardation or of a personality disorder."  These justices' only qualifications for their jobs are having made it through a Republican primary.  The fact that these justices, who answer only to the right-wing crazies of Texas, completely made up the standards for a medical diagnosis IS THE STORY.  John Steinbeck's son is only a talking point that diverts your readers from what really matters. 

movinondown
movinondown

It's cruel and unusual to let him live.

ObserverIsWhiteGuilt
ObserverIsWhiteGuilt

Hey Eric Nicholson, let him come live at your house, naive white-guilt libtard "progressive advocacy journalist".

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

I guess he's up for capital murder, for killing a cop.  But, is a cop a cop if it's a secret?  Considering the cost of death penalty, this case is an textbook example of prosecutorial profligacy. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @roo_ster but you want it for free.  It costs 5-7 times more to put a person to death than to incarcerate for life.  So, either you need to pay more taxes, or identify the 5 people you want to be released early.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Scruffygeist

Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word. And there’s an opening convey of generalities. A Texan outside of Texas is a foreigner. - John Steinbeck (1902–68), U.S. author. Travels With Charley: in Search of America, pt. 4 (1962).

 

and vice versa

 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @holmantx again, you should explain whether you want to pay more taxes, or which 4-6 people you want given early release to pay for the policies you want.  Conservative only in what you don't like, otherwise profligacy all the way, eh Holman?

bifftannen
bifftannen

 @holmantx Because he at least had an intelligent father. We know your father wasn't.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @movinondown I know how you like paying taxes; so, what 5 convicts do you want to release to pay for your big production?  I know you closeted conservatives like to keep your latent tendencies on the down low; but you sure seem to love a show; damn the cost, this is THEATRE.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @ObserverIsWhiteGuilt hey genius, incarceration for life at once avoids the death penalty, yet keeps him off the streets, AND, KEEPS 4-6 OTHERS IN JAIL FOR LIFE.  Or, the DEATH PENALTY THROWS 4-6 PEOPLE OUT ON THE STREETS.  WOULD YOU RATHER PAY MORE TAXES, OR INVITE THOSE 4-6 PEOPLE (PROBABLY BLACKS AND MEXICANS) TO COME LIVE WITH YOU FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES!

 

You're not too smart.

BurmaJones
BurmaJones

 @scottindallas  "or identify the 5 people you want to be released early."  ....  CITE YOUR SHIT, Dhimmi.

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

 @holmantx Still wasn't Thomas Steinbeck. Nor do I share that sentiment as a native Texan.

BurmaJones
BurmaJones

 @scottindallas  "or which 4-6 people you want given early release to pay for the policies you want."  ... CITE YOUR SHIT, Dhimmi.

RTGolden
RTGolden

 @bifftannen Way to blow an opportunity for a considered, qualified retort.  A baseless attack on someone's parent puts you about in the same category as the Celibrate Diversity trolls who abound here.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @BurmaJones look it up yourself, lazy ass.  There are several studies that have affirmed that figure.  A death penalty case has 3 trials where one would otherwise be necessary.  A pretrial to determine whether the case merits death penalty consideration, the trial and an extra phase in sentencing.  Then, there's "super due process" which is an expedited and more intensive review process.  Considering we've had several death row exonerations just in the last 12 mos. abridging the death penalty wouldn't be prudent.  Unless YOU'D like to be wrongfully put to death, your brain is apparently half  way there. 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @BurmaJonestry googling "cost of death penalty vs. life without parole.  You're a redundant dumb ass.

1st hit

http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/costs-death-penalty

2nd

http://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=001000

 

I will add that there have been 138 death row exonerations.  Further, many will die before they are ever put to death, making the extra judicial processes unneeded.  The vast evidence supports my contention.  (the second link compares pro and con arguments, the pro arguments are fewer, shorter, and have fewer facts.  My figures are the median estimates of the cost. 

 

Most of the death penalty advocates only look at one aspect of the cost, the legal cost.  Death row is the most expensive prison facilities, the Death advocates suggest that super max is higher than regular prison, however even the worst of the worst don't need to be in supermax for their full term, an assumption the Death advocates make. 

Now Trending

Dallas Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...