Tennessee legislation would stop executions of intellectually disabled

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The Tennessee Senate conducts business on the first day of the legislative session Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee lawmakers are advancing legislation designed to prevent death row inmates with an intellectual disability from being executed.

The proposal has gained a groundswell of support from disability advocates and death penalty critics. They argue that Tennessee is long overdue in addressing the issue.

They also point to inmate Pervis Payne, who attorneys call intellectually disabled as he awaits an execution date. Payne was sentenced to death in the 1987 fatal stabbings of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter.

So far, the bill has faced minimal resistance advancing out of legislative committees, but it still must clear the full House and Senate.

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