Change state law

We have come a long way in recognizing that mental illness, even if it results in abhorrent behavior, does not mean a person is ill — or sometimes even capable of resisting violent impulses.

Ohio law has not kept up with our understanding.

Buckeye State legislators recognize that, and they are taking steps to address it in state law.

They have approved a bill that would ban execution of people who were severely mentally ill at the time they committed capital offenses, such as murder.

Those suffering from maladies such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder or delusional disorder would be affected.

Again, it would have to be proven they were affected by such mental illness when they committed crimes for which they otherwise could have been sentenced to death.

Ohio has not executed anyone for some time, because of difficulty obtaining the drugs needed to conduct lethal injections. In fact, Gov. Mike DeWine recently said that the drugs rarely can be obtained and, when they are, their manufacturers threaten legal action if the state uses them for executions.

No one can say how long that problem will last. And unless state law is changed, lethal injection will remain the state’s only option for ending the life of a prisoner.

But at some point, it is likely executions will resume. There are certainly [plenty of inamtes on deat row awaiting their fates.

Capital punishment of anyone for any reason is an exceedingly controversial practice.

Executing people who were driven to violence by mental illnesses beyond their control should not be the least bit controversial, however. It simply should not be done.

DeWine should sign the General Assembly’s bill into law.

It is not intended to grant breaks to the truly, intentionally vicious, only to men and women whose illnesses were so severe that they were not responsible for their actions.


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