It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


Court Rules State Can Make Inmate Sane Enough to Execute

page: 1

log in


posted on Feb, 11 2003 @ 10:44 AM
The federal appeals court in St. Louis ruled yesterday that officials in Arkansas can force a prisoner on death row to take antipsychotic medication to make him sane enough to execute. Without the drugs, the prisoner, Charles Laverne Singleton, could not be put to death under a United States Supreme Court decision that prohibits the execution of the insane.

Yesterday's 6-to-5 decision is the first by a federal appeals court to allow such an execution.

"Singleton presents the court with a choice between involuntary medication followed by an execution and no medication followed by psychosis and imprisonment," Judge Roger L. Wollman wrote for the majority in ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Judge Wollman said the first choice was the better one, at least when the drugs were generally beneficial to the prisoner. He said courts did not need to consider the ultimate result of medicating the prisoner.

"Eligibility for execution is the only unwanted consequence of the medication," he wrote.

Judge Gerald W. Heaney, in dissent, said there was a third choice. He would have allowed Mr. Singleton to be medicated without fear of execution.

Based on extensive medical evaluations describing Mr. Singleton as psychotic, his lawyers have argued that he is mentally incompetent and thus cannot be executed. Drugs alleviate his symptoms, however, and Judges Wollman and Heaney differed yesterday on whether they rendered Mr. Singleton sane or merely masked his psychosis.

The Supreme Court has held that prisoners may be forced to take antipsychotic medications in some situations. Prisoners who are forced to take medications to ensure that they are competent to stand trial are entitled to a hearing to consider the medical appropriateness of the treatment, the risk the defendant poses to himself and others, and the drug's effect on the defendant's appearance, testimony and communications with his lawyer.

The Supreme Court has not ruled on whether prisoners may be medicated in order to make them competent to be executed.

Over the years, Mr. Singleton has sometimes taken antipsychotic medication voluntarily and has sometimes been forced to take it. Arkansas officials argued that Mr. Singleton must be medicated because he posed a danger to himself and to others.

Mr. Singleton's lawyers responded by saying, in Judge Wollman's characterization, that forcible medication "becomes illegal once an execution date is set because it is no longer in his best medical interests."

The majority decision yesterday said Mr. Singleton's interest in being free of unwanted medication must be balanced against society's interest in punishing criminal offenders. It overturned a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court, which had commuted Mr. Singleton's death sentence because he could not understand his punishment without being medicated.

Judge Heaney, in dissent, noted that the majority's decision gave doctors hard choices.

"Needless to say," he wrote of the majority's holding, "this leaves those doctors who are treating psychotic, condemned prisoners in an untenable position: treating the prisoner may provide short-term relief but ultimately result in his execution, whereas leaving him untreated will condemn him to a world such as Singleton's, filled with disturbing delusions and hallucinations."

Judge Heaney's opinion was joined by three other judges. Judge Diana Murphy dissented on a different ground. She said the record was not clear on whether Singleton was psychotic and that it was premature to take up the case.

The American Medical Association's ethical guidelines prohibit giving medical treatment that would make people competent to be executed, said Dr. Howard Zonana, who teaches psychiatry and law at Yale.

"You can't treat someone for the purpose of executing them," he said.

Jeffrey Marx Rosenzweig, Mr. Singleton's lawyer, said that he was considering asking the United States Supreme Court to hear the case, which he said presented an important question of constitutional law.

"To what extent," he asked, "can a government take invasive, involuntary action using medical personnel who are sworn to heal, save and treat when the result of their medical application and experience is not healing, treating and saving but instead has the result of causing execution?"

NY Times Story

posted on Feb, 11 2003 @ 10:51 AM
if people making such decisions really realize that they aren't making any sense???

posted on Feb, 11 2003 @ 11:16 AM
Give him placebos or better yet just tell him you gave him placebos, hes too insane to notice and the public is none the wiser.

What does it matter, drugs or no drugs, hes gonna be dead either way. It's when the death penalty has rational processes put to it, that it's true irrationality comes out.

Do these bloodthirsty psychos otherwise known as governors (I'm starting to sound like bobbie) want him to be sane so they can enjoy killing someone even more? Does his sanity in some way cause them to experience more pleasure in ending a life?

LETS EXECUTE THEM ALL HAHAHA!! Okay xaos pull your sanity back together before they kill you too. Deep Breaths... Okay I'm better, I just want to know how many years of school these people went through before becoming decision makers. Kinda says something about the government doesn't it.

Oh, well makes me glad I'm away from this mess.


[Edited on 11-2-2003 by xaos]

new topics

log in