Mental Illness Could Become A Deciding Factor When Sentencing Criminals

Apr 7, 2016

A House committee Wednesday gave the nod to a measure that could lighten the sentence of a mentally ill criminal.

A judge can take a lot 16 different factors into consideration when meting out a sentence.

The legislation proposed by Chicago Democratic Rep. Pamela Reeves-Harris adds another one.

"The court may consider, in mitigation, information that at the time of the offense the defendant was suffering from a serious mental illness," she said.

It's not that depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder would be a defense; it would allow a defense lawyer to present evidence of mental illness at sentencing.

It's estimated 6,000 Illinois prisoners, or 15 percent of those in the criminal justice system, have mental health issues.