NM Legislature Votes To Abolish "Guilty, But Mentally Ill" Verdict

New Mexico – Juries would have fewer options in deciding a criminal case under a bill legislators sent to the governor on Tuesday.

The bill would eliminate a verdict of guilty but mentally ill.

Currently, a jury can find a defendant guilty, not guilty or guilty but mentally ill.

Supporters say a verdict of guilty but mentally ill can confuse juries into thinking an offender will get a lesser sentence or will be treated differently from other inmates in receiving mental health treatment.

Opponents say the guilty but mentally ill verdict provides an important option for juries to deal with defendants who suffer from mental illness but still understand the difference between right and wrong.

The bill passed the House 40-21. The Senate narrowly approved the measure last week.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.