Coalition Supporting Severe Mental Illness Exclusion Launches in Tennessee

Tennessee Alliance for the Severe Mental Illness Exclusion (TASMIE) publicly launched last week with an op-ed in the Knoxville News Sentinel by TASMIE Coordinator Hannah Cox. TASMIE is a coalition of mental health advocacy organizations and other groups educating Tennesseans about their concerns with sentencing those with severe mental illness to death.

The coalition currently includes Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee; NAMI Tennessee; Tennessee Disability Coalition; Tennessee Mental Health Consumers’ Association; National Association of Social Workers, Tennessee Chapter; Tennessee Conservatives Concerned about the Death Penalty; Tennesseans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty; and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee.

TASMIE is educating citizens about what this exclusion will do if enacted, including:

  • Save taxpayers millions
  • Provide swifter legal finality to victims’ families
  • Apply only to sentencing–individuals could still be found guilty and would be eligible for life or life without parole
  • Extend something we already do in Tennessee as the current law excludes minors and those with intellectual disability from the death penalty
  • Would be narrowly applied to only those individuals who fit very specific guidelines for severe mental illness
  • Would affect a small percentage of cases as only 5-10% of death row inmates have the most severe mental illnesses

TASMIE Coordinator Hannah Cox is available to make presentations, submit articles, provide TASMIE fact sheets, etc. for any of you who would like more information or who are members of organizations, churches, or other groups who might be interested in getting involved.

TASMIE will work over the summer and fall to inform Tennesseans about why this exclusion is not only the right thing to do, but is also just smart policy, in order to prepare for possible legislation in 2017 that would make this exclusion a reality.

To learn more, visit tasmie.org and follow TASMIE on Twitter /TASMIEOrg and Facebook /TASMIEOrg.