This is an excellent article dealing with the question of sanity and the death penalty. It also introduces a new term to me which is “synthetic sanity” . I will make no attempt to explain it as you can follow the link for a better understanding.
The sad part is that these cases are more often than spectacular in nature and exploited in the press as well as by lawyers. The arguments are high sounding but the truth is they are irrelevant because these are people whose ‘wiring’ has gone off the charts. Simply stated, these are cases where once the perpetrator is determined to be insane then there is no space for revenge, closure or jurisprudence but it is a simple medical issue of confining them till they are no longer a threat.
It is also much cheaper. Once a person is found guilty and insane to give them pharmaceuticals so that exists a “synthetic sanity” is a sad reflection on the state of our politics and the entire population is at the mercy of a government without checks and balances. In essence, we are no better than the crazy person they are executing.
My sense is that the heart of the article is: “… But if a condemned man or woman – conceivably Laughner – deteriorated to the point where prison psychiatrists deemed him incompetent to be executed, could the prison authorities forcibly medicate him into a state of “synthetic sanity,” so that he would perhaps understand that he was going to be killed and the reason why? The supreme courts of two Southern states – Louisiana and South Carolina – deemed it contrary to their state constitutions to forcibly medicate a prisoner in order to prep him for execution. The United States Supreme Court has had two opportunities to address the issue, but all they did was touch up Powell’s opinion to mean that the condemned person must have “rational understanding” of the reason why he or she is going to be killed. And if a person does not possess “rational understanding,” can prison docs help him out with medication?…”
Follow link for full article:Fit to Be Killed: Manufacturing Synthetic Sanity on Death Row
PS: In doing an internet search for the photo of a judges gavel, it seems as if there is no distinction between a judge’s gavel and an auctioneer’s gavel. A rather fitting commentary on justice within the nation. The highest bidder gets the best deal.