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Government & Politics

Ohio Senate Approves Ban on Executions of Mentally Ill Inmates

photo of Bob Spada

A state Senate committee has overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan bill banning execution of people who were known to be severely mentally ill at the time they committed a capital crime.

Republican former senator Bob Spada of North Royalton in northeast Ohio has long been an advocate for the mentally ill, and told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe illnesses shouldn’t be sentenced to die.

“It’s unfair to put people with a serious mental illness to death. It’s quite often beyond their capability to understand what they’re doing.”

Prosecutors have said they’re concerned that the bill puts a burden on their colleagues to prove that the diagnosis of severe mental illness was unfounded or that the mental illness didn’t affect the crime.