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Intelligence Testing and Cut-off Scores

Use the Virginia v. Atkins ruling in which the Supreme Court has determined that it is unconstitutional to execute an individual who has an intellectual disability. In its decision the court stipulated that one criterion is an IQ score below 70. Consider the use of this "cut-off" score in formulating this type of decision. Remember, this is not a discussion about the death penalty; rather, it is a discussion about the use of specific cut-off scores in making clinical, administrative, or legal decisions.

----- An argument for or against the use of cut-off scores in diagnoses that might affect court decisions. Use the current literature to support your response. Then, justify an alternative solution to this issue using the Learning Resources and current literature to support your response. Finally, explain one way cut-off scores might be applied in clinical practice.

------ support your postings and responses with specific references .

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*Brief review of the ruling

Daryl Atkins was sentenced to death for committing crimes including shooting a patron of an automated teller machine, robbery, abduction, capital murder and armed robbery. After he was found guilty of if these offenses, his verdict included a psychological "mildly mentally retarded" diagnoses pertaining to his health. The diagnosis, based on a review of school and court records, included a standardized intelligence test which showed that Atkins had a full scale IQ of 59.

At issue was whether the execution of individuals with mental retardation violated the eight Amendment of the U. S. Constitution. Based on a report by the American Psychological Association (APA), the court had addressed this issue in several cases (e.g., Perry vs. Lynbaugh, U. S. 492. 302 (1989; McCarver v North Carolina, 533 U.S. 978). Before the case could be addressed, North Carolina adopted a state statute that made executing the mentally retarded illegal and the case was dismissed as moot. However, the Court agreed to address the issue in Atkins v. Virginia. The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that executions of mentally retarded criminals are "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment(Atkins vs. ...

Solution Summary

This solution examines the Atkins vs. Virginia ruling relative to cut-off scores for mental retardation.