As this Associated Press story reports, legislation exempting people with severe mental illness from the death penalty has passed the North Carolina House subcommittee and now goes to the full House floor. We have been following this legislation and working with colleagues in North Carolina to distribute our new report, Double Tragedies, to lawmakers there.
NC House panel narrowly OKs death penalty change
The Associated Press
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina House lawmakers again have narrowly approved legislation designed to prevent a murder suspect or death row prisoner with severe mental illness from facing capital punishment.
A House appropriations subcommittee voted 5-4 Wednesday in favor of creating a process whereby the death penalty would be removed as a sentencing option for a murder defendant with a severe mental disability. The maximum penalty would be life in prison without parole.
The measure passed a judiciary committee last week and now heads to the House floor.
Opponents said criminal procedure already allow jurors to take mental illness into account at sentencing. A state attorney says the bill creates a process that would cost millions of dollars to carry out if it became law.