Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Kentucky moves toward abolishing the death penalty for the mentally ill

A bill that would ban the death penalty for people with mental illnesses has taken a step toward becoming law, according to WDRB-TV.

A state Senate committee approved Senate Bill 154 on Thursday. The proposed legislation prohibits capital punishment for those who have a documented history of severe mental disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, as well as severe depression and delusions.

The illness must have been diagnosed before the crime was committed, said Sen. Julie Raque Adams, who is one of the bill's sponsors. 

"We don't use the death penalty on people who have a low mental capacity," said Adams, a Republican from Louisville. "So why would we want to kill somebody, or inflict the death penalty, on somebody that really has no understanding and that diagnosis of a severe mental illness? Why would we want to subject them to the death penalty, as well?"

The Kentucky Commonwealth's Attorneys Association opposes Senate Bill 154, which now heads to the full Senate for a possible vote.

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