[W]hen psychologists talk about mental retardation, they speak of it with a set of intellectual assumptions and from a world view that is frankly alien to law. The result is that the two sides often talk past one another rather than with one another. I don't have a problem with people who wish to argue that individuals with certain mental disabilities should not be killed. But as a educational psychologist, I fail to see what mental retardation has to do with making that determination. For example, there is nothing in the DSM that says that people who are mentally retarded don't know right from wrong, or that they can't understand the consequences of their actions; concepts which historically have been very important to the law in assessing moral blameworthiness.
Atkins, Psychologists, and the Death Penalty
Doug Berman at Sentencing Law and Policy has a post referencing a new paper on SSRN which discusses the implementation of Atkins. Commenter Daniel makes this deft observation: