Tennessee lawmakers consider bill to change eligibility for death penalty

death row
Posted at 10:35 AM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 11:35:40-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A bill being discussed by the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday could change who is eligible to receive the death penalty in Tennessee.

If this bill becomes law, certain mental illnesses would essentially make someone exempt from the death penalty, if they had the illness at the time of the crime.

The five illnesses listed in the bill are:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Delusional disorder
  • PTSD

The person has to have the illness at the time of the crime, but not to the extent that they'd be found not guilty by reason of insanity, or incompetent to stand trial.

"An offender who was sentenced to death prior to July 1, 2022, may file a petition with the court in which the offender was sentenced to assert that the offender had a serious mental illness at the time of the offense," the bill said.

It is unclear how much of an impact this would have on sentencing. According to the bill, there are 47 inmates on death row.