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Should Death Penalty Be Prohibited If Defendant Is Mentally Ill?

A pair of hands secures handcuffs on another pair of hands.

Photo: (Pixabay)

Prosecutors say serious mental illness is already considered in death penalty cases and can be a mitigating factor.

Indiana lawmakers Wednesday studied the potential of a move to prohibit the death penalty in cases where a defendant has a serious mental illness.

The majority of people who testified at a study committee hearing – including mental health advocates, public defenders, and the Catholic Church – favor a death penalty ban for people who diagnoses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or traumatic brain injuries.

Many say the state could also save money eliminating these death penalty cases. Defendants found guilty would instead face life in prison. Only a handful of states have such bans.

The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council opposes such a move. Prosecutors say serious mental illness is already considered in death penalty cases and can be a mitigating factor.

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