Senate Hears SMI Death Penalty Exemption Bill

MO Capitol

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on a bill that would exempt persons with serious mental Illness (SMI) from the death penalty. SB 462, sponsored by Sen. Lauren Arthur (D-Kansas City), identifies the diseases that would qualify under the bill to include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The defendant would have to prove to the court in a hearing prior to trial that he/she had an SMI at the time he/she committed the crime.

Numerous witnesses, including the MCC, testified to how people with mental illness are at a disadvantage in the court system and how none of the existing legal procedures provide protection from the death penalty. The bill specifies that a person with serious mental illness convicted of first-degree murder would receive a life without parole sentence. SMI legislation has been proposed in at least seven other states.

April 18, 2019 - 10:51am
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