The case of Charles Laverne Singleton is often debated by journalists as well as medical workers. It should be mentioned that this person was sentenced to death penalty, but the execution was delayed because he was diagnosed with a mental disorder. In turn, it is important to speak about the court decision according to which he could be forced to take antipsychotic drugs.
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In this way, the state attempted to make Singleton sane and eligible for death penalty. The critics of this decision believe that medicine is aimed at healing people, but it cannot be used to prepare them for execution. This is the main argument that can be identified. It is closely related to the functioning of the criminal justice system and medical ethics.
Overall, I believe that the medical treatment, which a death-row prisoner may receive, must not be viewed as a sufficient ground for execution. This argument is particularly relevant if one speaks about people who have some mental disorders. It is possible to single out several reasons that can support this position. First of all, the legitimization of such practices can compromise or even undermine the ethical integrity of medical workers.
These professionals must not use coercion in their daily practices. In many cases, voluntary and informed consent of the patient must be obtained by physicians prior to taking any action.
Therefore, the decision taken by the court can prompt medical workers to violate their ethical principles which are essential for protecting patients’ rights and their safety. This is one of the details that should be considered by legislators who need to think about the long-term consequences of their actions.
Additionally, the decision can eventually legitimate the dehumanization of death-row convicts or any prisoners. In particular, they may be forced to take not only antipsychotic drugs, but other chemical substances as well. For example, they can be used in medical experiments without their consent.
This is one of the pitfalls that policy-makers should not overlook. Certainly, they try to make sure that the execution of Singleton is not classified as a cruel and unusual punishment. In this way, they want to comply with existing legal norms.
However, their efforts to legitimize this execution can turn the criminal justice system into a machine that can dehumanize convicts who will be deprived of their dignity. There is a risk that this policy may create a loophole for violating the rights of prisoners. This is why the morality of this verdict can be questioned.
Secondly, one should mention that the medical assistance, which is given to a person, does not necessarily result in complete recovery. In many cases, medical workers can only help a patient adjust to some symptoms of a disease. One should bear in mind that Singleton was suffering from schizophrenia.
By taking antipsychotic drugs, this person can experience some temporary relief. However, one cannot say that he/she can overcome this disease. Similar argument can be applied to other disorders.
This issue should be considered since it is important for showing that this court decision is based on the superficial understanding of such notions as medicine and treatment. Moreover, this approach is not compatible with the daily practices of healthcare professionals.
Certainly, one can raise an objection to my position, and this critique will incorporate several arguments. In particular, the supporters of this decision can say that healthcare professionals are inevitably involved in executions. For instance, they must declare the death of a convict. More importantly, their duty is to provide medical assistance to prisoners, regardless of the crimes that they could have committed.
However, they cannot be held responsible for the actions of the state. In its turn, the government must enforce the decisions of the court. This task is critical for doing justice. By providing antipsychotic drugs to a convict, the state wants to make sure that this individual understands why death penalty is imposed on him/her.
In other words, this person should see that he is punished for a certain felony. Therefore, this decision of the court can be justified, provided that a person accepts the very necessity for capital punishment.
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Admittedly, this objection should not be overlooked, but it is not sufficient for addressing ethical issues that are related to this case. In particular, this approach cannot justify medical workers’ use of coercion. Secondly, these professional must be concerned with the long-term well-being of a patient.
However, by facilitating the execution of a person, medical workers will deviate from the professional norms that are set for them. This is one of the issues that should not be disregarded.
Furthermore, it is vital to remember about the impact of this court decision on the experiences of other death-row convicts whose civic rights can be violated by the state. This position can be adopted even by a person who supports the use of death penalty. One should bear in mind that the acceptance of capital punishment does not imply that the state can dehumanize people.