Monday, May 14, 2012

Fixin' to Execute Steve Staley

As though sane people are short of reasons to decry capital punishment.

Steve Staley may be the new poster boy for state barbarism.   Stanley is on Death Row in Texas for the 1989 murder of a restaurant manager he shot while trying to elude police.

Steve has been mentally disturbed since childhood.  "He has a long history of paranoid schizophrenia and depression. Staley was abused as a child by his mother, who was also mentally ill; when he was 6 or 7 she tried to pound a wooden stake through his chest. His father was an alcoholic. Staley tried to kill himself as a teenager. Doctors who have examined Staley on death row have said that he talks in a robot-like monotone yet has “grandiose and paranoid” delusions, including the beliefs that he invented the first car and marketed a character from Star Trek. He has given himself black eyes and self-inflicted lacerations and has been found spreading feces and covered with urine. Medicated with the anti-psychotic drug Haldol, Staley complained of paralysis and sometimes appeared to be in a catatonic state. He has worn a bald spot on the back of his head from lying on the floor of his cell."

The problem facing the Texas courts right now is a U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting execution of the insane.

"The court quoted British judges in the 17th century worrying about the “miserable spectacle” of “extream (sic) inhumanity and cruelty” presented by executing a “mad man.” It served no retributive purpose, Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote, to execute a person “who has no comprehension of why he has been singled out.” He also noted “the natural abhorrence civilized societies feel at killing one who has no capacity to come to grips with his own conscience or deity.”

When Staley stopped taking his meds, a Texas judge found him incompetent, unfit for execution, and then overcame that problem by authorizing the state to forcibly medicate the condemned.

"...the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association hold that it is ethically unacceptable for doctors to prescribe drugs to restore competency for the purpose of execution. This should be an easy call for the Texas courts as well. If it’s awful to imagine psychotic prisoners going without their meds, it’s more awful to force shots on them so the state can kill them. If Texas fails to grasp this, other inmates will follow Steven Staley. Mental illness is common on death row. The only reason that the issues raised in Staley’s case haven’t been decided before, defense lawyers tell me, is that humane prosecutors and judges don’t insist on executing people whose sanity is so uncertain."
Staley is scheduled to be executed next week, if Texas authorities can drug him adequately by then so they can then drug him again and kill him.


Beijing York said...

What a travesty. The two other death row cases are also tragic.

sassy said...

The system fails him miserably for his whole life, and continues to do so.