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Mental Illness Could Become A Deciding Factor When Sentencing Criminals

Gavel on desk

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.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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