Bicameral legislation in Florida’s legislature would prevent people with serious mental illness from receiving the death penalty. The two bills, S.B. 770 and H.B. 1251 ("Serious Mental Illness as Bar to Sentence of Death"), are sponsored by Republicans Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. Vance Aloupis.
Proponents of the bill attest that since the enactment of Florida’s current death penalty statute, understanding of the full impact of serious mental illness has developed further. Today it is understood that people with serious mental illness are inherently less culpable for their actions because physical and chemical processes in their minds lead to substantial shifts in their perception of reality.
Furthermore, once these individuals are arrested they are less able to fully understand legal proceedings and may make choices that harm their ability to defend themselves.
Currently, there are no hearings scheduled for the bills yet. Advocates are hopeful, however, that Florida will follow in the footsteps of Ohio, which in 2021 became the first state prohibit the death penalty for peple with serious mental illness.