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Panel Weighs Mental Illness In Death Penalty Cases

A committee examining capital punishment in Ohio wants lawmakers to debate whether the death penalty should be off the table for offenders with serious mental illness. Mental illness has long been a factor in deciding whether someone should be executed in the state, but the new proposal deals with eliminating it as an option upfront, before a person is charged. The task force convened by Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor agreed by a 15-2 vote Thursday to recommend lawmakers consider the idea. The concept is a long way from ever becoming law. The recommendation would first need legislation, and that would be followed by a long debate in the General Assembly over the definition of serious mental illness.