The concept of using medicine to induce sanity before a death penalty is cruel in one point of view and just in another. In the ruling of the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Arkansas that allow the government to use force to return sanity to the man sentenced to the death penalty is, as claimed by David Kaczynski, the Executive Director of New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty, as “absurd.”
This case presents a moral dilemma that can be presented as either something that should be done or something that should not even be conceived of, depending on whose point of view it is. Personally, I believe that sanity should not have been forced on those who will incur the death penalty for two reasons. First is that the spirit of the use of the death penalty does not require the sanity of a man, and second is that it degrades the profession from something that is to be regarded as life-saving to something that can be used to take away life, or worse, subject the patient to torment.
In the fist point of contention, the death penalty is in legislation for two reasons: deterrence and the termination of recidivist offenders. If these are the reasons why the death penalty was instituted, then, the reason for inducing sanity to the convicted serves no purpose other than to torment the person into facing his death. While this may seem a just penalty to others, we must take a closer look at the state of insanity the convicted prisoner has experienced.
There are a number of variables that result in a person’s insanity, the underlying triggers are always stress and anxiety combined with other factors. In the prisoner’s case, then, whatever has caused him to crack is mostly attributed to the fact that he was caught and sentenced to death penalty, which is already stress-inducing in itself. If the reason for induced sanity is to hammer in the consequences of his actions, then what he felt under the intense pressure of his sentence is already enough especially if the fact had driven him to insanity. Any additional torment would not be a just act, but is nothing but torture, which is illegal, not only in the United States, but also in the international community.
On the second point of contention, in today’s society, euthanasia is already a highly debated topic. Those who push for active euthanasia use the medical field as a springboard to death because they do not want the patients to suffer anymore than they already do and to not give them any false hope. In this sense, the medical profession is still esteemed highly as something that can make the quality of life better. The case of using it for the purposes of death penalty is another story altogether.
As already stated, the inducement of this method is nothing less than torture, and therefore, is inhumane and completely contradictory to the aims of the medical profession. Unlike euthanasia which is still a relevant debate because of the gray area of the conditions for the quality of life and the alleviation of pain, there is nothing in death penalty that is parallel to the aims of medicine.
If this is set in motion, then, the field of medicine would have contradicting images: one that allows for torture and pain, and the other as a guardian to ensure a patient’s quality of life. This legal loophole will result in the slippery slope to the medical profession that could mean safety nets even for medical malpractice and other life-threatening practices. While opponents to this argument will say that this is nothing but a domino effect argument with no bias, history dictates that there are many laws that were restrictive before but now were allowed, such as gay marriages where people in the fifties and earlier would not hesitate to even stone these people for coming out of the closet. This shows that a little allowance in the law could result into a larger liberalization of the restrictive law.
In essence, this law should have never been passed in the first place. If the death penalty’s job is to deter crime, then let it prove itself without resorting to the inhuman ruling of forcing sanity to an insane death row convict.