The ACLU of Idaho is proud to be a member of the Idaho Alliance for the Serious Mental Illness Death Penalty Exemption (IASMIE), a coalition of mental health providers, law enforcement officials, faith leaders and social justice groups who believe individuals with persistent and documented severe mental illness should be barred from execution in Idaho. The SMI exemption does not bar individuals with severe mental illness from prosecution in capital cases, but rather recognizes the diminished culpability of those who may not understand criminal wrong doing. This ensures appropriate sentences is given, which is likely be life without the possibility of parole.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the informational hearing for our SMI exemption campaign scheduled for Friday 3/23 has been cancelled. We know many of our supporters were looking forward to attending the hearing and showing committe members why this is such an important issue for them to consider.
However, we're not done yet. Despite the setback, there are still several ways to let lawmakers know that they have unfinished business that needs to be considered for the 2019 legislative sesssion:
- Send an email to each of the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee members letting them know that despite the cancelled informational hearing, you hope they will consider addressing the status of mental health care in the criminal justice system next year. Be sure to use our talking points and fact sheet (found at the bottom of this page) to help you prepare your comments. Don’t forget to send lawmakers the link to this campaign page so they can learn more about the issue. Contact information for the committee can be found under the "members" tab here.
- Send an email to your senator and representatives asking them to consider addressing a severe mental illness exemption next year. Not sure who your legislator is? Find them here.
- Continue writing letters to the editor and submitting them to your local newspaper. This is a great way to build community support for our efforts and attract the attention of lawmakers in your community. You can find a list of local newspaper across the state here.
- Invite your friends to connect with the IASMIE coalition on Facebook and Twitter.
UPDATE: After two years of hard work, IASMIE has secured an informational hearing in the House Judiciary, Rules & Administration Committee on Friday March 23, 2018 from 1:oo-2:30 pm in room EW42. This will be the first opportunity for us to voice support for a severe mental illness exemption to lawmakers in hopes that we can introduce a bill in the 2019 legislative session.
What is an informational hearing? Instead of testifying on a specific bill, during an informational hearing attendees will speak to lawmakers about their interest in seeing the legislature discuss the possibility of an SMI exemption bill for the next legislative session. After short presentations by the ACLU, a mental health expert, a criminal defense lawyer, and a disability rights advocate, community members will have an opportunity to provide public comments in support of our IASMIE legislative goal. We encourage all of you to attend the hearing in support of the SMI exemption and to testify as to why such an exemption is necessary in Idaho.
Join us at the hearing and help us pack the room to show overwhelming support for an SMI death penalty exemption in Idaho!
Below you'll find IASMIE resourcs that can be used to help you prepare for the upcoming informational hearing or guide your discussions with lawmakers.