Kentucky’s General Assembly has passed the halfway mark and time is running out to get bills heard and passed in both chambers.
HB 16, which abolishes the death penalty for people with mental illness, is still in the House Judiciary Committee, but we have enough time to pass the bill. Chairman John Tilley (D-Christan and Trigg) has indicated that he will hear the bill in committee so it can be sent to the House floor for a vote. HB 16 now has 23 cosponsors, 15 Democrats and 8 Republicans, a really good mix of legislators. To see a complete list, select this link.
Please call 800-372-7181 and leave the following message for Rep. Tilley:
Chairman Tilley, thank you so much for agreeing to give HB 16 a hearing with a vote in your Judiciary committee. It is important that we do not use the death penalty to punish a severely mentally ill person. Please hold this hearing no later than March 10 so there is time to pass the bill before the session ends. Thank you.
When you call to leave Chairman Tilley a message, please take just another minute or two to leave a message for your state representative:
Please support HB 16 to prevent the execution of severely mentally ill persons.
If you do not know the name of your legislator, the person who answers the phone may be able to help you. But it is easier to use Project Vote Smartlink to fill in your home address, including your nine digit zip code to learn the names of your state representative and your state senator.
Please call as soon as possible, because we expect movement on this bill in the next two to three weeks. It is very important legislators hear from their constituents.
The Kentucky Mental Health Coalition and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Kentucky are working with Rep. David Floyd (R-Bardstown) and other Kentucky legislators to pass a law that will prevent the execution of severely mentally ill persons who commit a capital murder and whose mental illness is active at the time the crime was committed.
KCADP supports this effort to limit executions in the state. This bill is similar to the law that was passed in 1990 that excluded those who are mentally retarded from executions. Defendants with an active severe mental illness at the time of a crime have a diminished capacity for understanding what it is they are doing. This diminished capacity limits their culpability, their blameworthiness for this action. In addition, the death penalty, allegedly a deterrent, could have little or no impact on a severely mentally ill defendant.