April 10, 2018

ABA Testifies in Support of Missouri Bill That Would End Executions of Individuals with Severe Mental Illness

On April 11, 2018, Judge Michael Wolff presented testimony on behalf of the American Bar Association before the Missouri Senate General Laws Committee in support of Senate Bill 1081. SB 1081, introduced by Senator John Rizzo (D), and its companion bill, HB 2509, introduced by Representative Tom Hannegan (R), would change Missouri laws to prohibit the execution of individuals who, at the time of the offense, suffered from a severe mental disorder that significantly impaired their capacity to exercise rational judgment in relation to conduct, conform their conduct to the requirements of law, or appreciate the nature, consequences, or wrongfulness of their conduct.

The ABA has opposed capital punishment for individuals with severe mental illness since 2006, when the Association, along with the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness adopted ABA Resolution 122-A. In his testimony, Judge Michael Wolff, former Missouri Supreme Court judge and chief justice, and former dean of Saint Louis University Law School, expressed the Association’s support for SB 1081 and noted that this exemption would not only “fill an important gap in how the law handles mental illness,” but “it would also help minimize the risk of other types of errors that can occur when individuals with mental illness face serious criminal charges.” The testimony was well-received by committee members, who have not yet voted on the bill itself. The Project would like to express its gratitude to Steering Committee Member Judge Michael Wolff for delivering the testimony on behalf of the ABA.

To read the full testimony, click here.