Texas House OKs death penalty ban for severely mentally ill

Texas
Execution FILE

FILE – In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown with the witness gallery behind glass, at right, in Walla Walla, Wash. Washington state’s Supreme Court ruled Oct. 11, 2018, that the death penalty violates its Constitution. The abolishment of the death penalty was voted the […]

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Republican-controlled Texas House has voted to ban the execution of inmates who are severely mentally ill in the nation’s busiest death-penalty state.

No lawmaker spoke in opposition of the bill Thursday. The legislation would amount to a rare weakening of Texas’ tough stance on capital punishment.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled mentally disabled people are ineligible for execution, but that prohibition does not include those who are mentally ill.

Democratic state Rep. Toni Rose’s bill would take the death penalty off the table for people who had a severe mental illness, including schizophrenia or a bipolar disorder, at the time of the crime.

The bill passed 77-66 but could face tougher opposition in the Senate.

Rose urged her Republican colleagues before the vote to “be pro-life from womb to the tomb.”

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