Commonwealth Policy Center

The Kentucky state legislature voted to restrict the death penalty from people who are deemed mentally ill. The bill does not absolve them of their crime or prevent them from being incarcerated for life. However, it does keep the state from executing them. State Sen. Julie Raque Adams said, “It in no way absolves defendants of legal responsibilities for their crimes. They can still be tried, convicted, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, including life without parole.” Executions have been under moratorium for over a decade in the Commonwealth. But this is the first time the death penalty has been restricted to a certain group. Defendants must have a diagnosis from a mental health professional and documented history of mental illness. And it would not be applied retroactively. There are currently 26 prisoners on Kentucky’s death row.