Mississippi Supreme Court Orders Resentencing for Former Death Row Inmate

Published 9:58 am Monday, August 28, 2023

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled unanimously to order the resentencing of Howard M. Neal, a former death row inmate. This decision is based on the determination that Neal has intellectual disabilities. The new sentence will make him eligible for the potential of parole.

Neal, 69, was initially convicted in 1982 for the 1981 kidnapping and murder of his 13-year-old half-niece, Amanda Joy Neal. The crime occurred south of the state’s capital in Lawrence County, leading to the trial being moved to Lamar County.

In June, Neal wrote a handwritten letter to the state Supreme Court, seeking a change to his current sentence of life without parole. He cited his intellectual disabilities and poor health as reasons for the request. The state attorney general’s office responded on August 9th, agreeing that Neal should be resentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

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This case highlights the evolving legal approach to individuals with intellectual disabilities and how it impacts sentencing. The decision also brings attention to the broader discussions around fairness in the criminal justice system, especially when considering the circumstances of individuals with intellectual challenges.

The resentencing process signifies a significant development in Neal’s lengthy legal journey. As the legal proceedings continue, this case could shape future discussions and considerations in similar contexts.