Ohio bill would prohibit death penalty for mentally ill offenders

Ohio senators introduced a bipartisan bill this week that seeks to prohibit the death penalty for offenders suffering from a "serious mental illness" at the time they committed their crimes, the Columbus Dispatch reports. SB 162 is sponsored by Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati and Sen. Sandra Williams, D-Cleveland and has 12 other co-sponsors from both major parties. The bill seeks to implement recommendations from the Ohio Supreme Court's Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio's Death Penalty, which issued its final report in April 2014.

The bill specifically applies to individuals who did not meet the standard to be found not guilty by reason of insanity or incompetent to stand trial, but whose serious mental illness at the time the crime was committed "impaired the person's capacity to do one or more of the following: (i) Exercise rational judgment in relation to the person's conduct; (ii) Conform the person's conduct to the requirements of law; (iii) Appreciate the nature, consequences, or wrongfulness of the person's conduct."

The bill specifically describes certain mental illnesses to be included, such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and delusional disorder, but excludes any mental disorder attributed solely to voluntary drug or alcohol use.

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