Proposed Death Penalty Legislation Debated In Frankfort

A new push is underway to preclude the use of the death penalty for the severely mentally ill in Kentucky, but the legislation appears to have a steep, uphill climb.

Psychologist Russ Williams says mental illness is found in about 20 percent of the population, and nearly three percent is severely mentally ill.  By that he means –  delusions, hallucinations and disorganized thinking.

“Their ability to comprehend and to understand our reality and to understand their actions is so demised by their mental condition, that they really do not understand their actions and what they’re doing,” he told a legislative panel in Frankfort Wednesday.

Williams supports legislation precluding the death penalty for such individuals, but opponents say the bill’s definition of mental illness is too broad.  Similar bills introduced in previous legislative sessions have seen little action.