What is HASMIE?
The Hoosier Alliance for Serious Mental Illness Exemption (HASMIE) is a coalition of mental health partners, faith leaders, and other advocates. The coalition drafted legislation that ultimately became #SB155, which was introduced in January 2017.
#SB155, sponsored by Senators Merritt, Ruckelshaus, and Bassler, would prohibit seeking the death penalty if the defendant is found to have active symptoms of a serious mental illness that significantly impaired him or her at the time of the crime.
How is serious mental illness defined in #SB155?
Serious mental illness is defined as one or more of the following specific disorders:
- Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Delusional disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
What happens if a defendant is found to be exempt?
The bill would not exempt a defendant from being found guilty of the crime of murder or mean that the defendant would not be punished if found guilty. For example, a defendant with serious mental illness could still receive a sentence of life without parole.
The determination of whether a defendant is exempt from the death penalty would be made by a judge before trial in a proceeding similar to the determination of intellectual disability.
Why is IAC supporting legislation that is not total repeal of the death penalty?
The IAC board of directors feels strongly that this legislation will reduce the use of the death penalty in Indiana. The more rarely the death penalty is used, the closer IAC comes to its overall goal of eliminating the death penalty altogether. So while a bill for total repeal would be preferable, in Indiana’s current political climate it is important ‘not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’
3 Ways to Support #SB155
- Champion #SB155: Call your legislator and tell him or her you support #SB155!
- Invite Others: Tell your social networks, friends, and family about this legislation and enlist their support as well. Follow Hasmie on Twitter and Facebook for updates and share them with others.
- Invest: Donate to IAC in support of HASMIE. IAC is the fiscal agent for this initiative and is committing major support to this effort. Help us end the death penalty for those with serious mental illness!