Tennessee passes bill to stop executions of intellectually disabled

Tennessee

FILE – This Oct. 9, 2014, file photo shows the gurney in the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. Oklahoma is planning to resume executing death-row inmates, five years after lethal injections were put on hold following a series of death-chamber mishaps, state officials announced Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers have passed legislation designed to prevent death row inmates with an intellectual disability from being executed.

The GOP-supermajority House and Senate passed the bill by wide margins Monday. Advocates point to inmate Pervis Payne, who attorneys call intellectually disabled as he awaits an execution date.

Payne was sentenced to death in the 1987 fatal stabbings of Charisse Christopher and her 2-year-old daughter.

In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing a person with an intellectual disability is unconstitutional.

However, Tennessee’s Supreme Court later determined there was no procedure for death row inmates to reopen their cases to explore intellectual disability claims.

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