Tennessee bill would ban death penalty for people with documented severe mental illness


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — As Tennessee continues to see an increase in executions, state lawmakers have advanced legislation that would exempt people with severe mental illness from receiving the death penalty.

The proposal still has an uphill battle in Tennessee’s GOP-dominated Statehouse, with some Republican lawmakers are resistant to being perceived as softening the state’s death penalty laws.

However, the decision by the House Judiciary Committee to send the bill to the full floor on Wednesday marks the furthest the bill has survived over the past four years it’s been introduced in Tennessee.

According to the Associated Press, if the measure is approved anyone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder with psychosis, major depressive disorder with psychosis or delusional disorder would not face the death penalty.

The person would have to have a “documented medical history” that was a least a year old at the time of the murder.

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