The Ohio House has overwhelmingly passed a bill banning execution of people found to have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other severe mental illnesses at the time of their crime.
The bill, HB 136, still has to go through the Senate, but it’s a win for a group that’s been pushing for this for years.
The legislation says people with severe mental illnesses should be sentenced to life in prison, not death. And it also allows the 137 men and one woman on death row now to receive evaluations to determine if they should be exempt.
Terry Russell, with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio, said not only is this the right thing to do, only a few people will be affected by this bill.
“A very, very small group of people with these illnesses are violent at all – matter of fact, they’re usually victims of crime more than they commit crimes," Russell said.
Ohio law also exempts people classified as juveniles and developmentally disabled people from the death penalty.
Executions are on hold while the state comes up with a new lethal injection formula.