Missouri Alliance for Serious Mental Illness Exclusion (MASMIE)
MASMIE is a coalition of mental health advocates and other organizations that are educating Missourians about their concerns with sentencing to death those who have serious mental illness.
While the vast majority of individuals who suffer from mental illnesses are not violent offenders, our mission is to protect these small percentage of offenders from receiving a death sentence.
Less than 3 to 5% of crimes involve people with mental illness as defendants, while people with serious mental illness are 11 times more likely to be victims of a violent crime than the general population.
The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not dangerous, but a small number do commit serious crimes, often in the depths of psychosis when they are only partly in touch with reality. The law allows such offenders to be sentenced to life in prison with no parole, but it should stop short of execution.
Culpability and the 8th Amendment
The Supreme Court has previously recognized that the execution of two less culpable categories of the population - defendants with intellectually disabilities and juveniles - is unconstitutional under the protection against "cruel and unusual punishment" in the 8th Amendment.
We believe individuals with serious mental illness are similarly less culpable and should be excluded from facing the death penalty.
Seventy five percent of defendants who have a mental disability (including SMI) and who were wrongly convicted confessed to a crime they did not commit.
The money saved from the exclusion of defendants with SMI from the death penalty could be used to solve cases, to staff prisons, police forces, and to create mental health and addiction programs that focus on prevention.
This law would not apply to whether someone is guilty or not guilty, only to whether they are eligible for the death penalty.
Capital cases involving a defendant with an SMI can be excessively protracted, prolonging pain for surviving families.
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