Monday, September 26, 2011

Psychiatrists want power to force drugs

A forensic psychiatrist blogger writes:
Jared Loughner shot Representative Gabrielle Giffords and 18 other people, ...

He was found not competent to stand trial. This means his trial is postponed until his mental illness resolves enough for him to: understand the charges against him; participate meaningfully in his own defense; control his behavior in court; etc. See that last "etc?" That's the part that allows courts to do anything they want to you.

Loughner, however is refusing to take antipsychotic medication to get better. ...

Practically, this means that if the court wants to medicate Loughner against his will, they can. There is a legal process to follow, but it is simple and straightforward and completely not in any kind of dispute.

There should be no issue.

So I was surprised to read that the American Psychiatric Association and the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, through Paul Appelbaum, filed an amicus curiae brief in support of forced medication. Why? Isn't this a non-issue?

In fact, there are two reasons you can forcibly medicate (only) prisoners. The first is Sell v. US: you can force antipsychotics for the purpose of restoring the defendant to competency to stand trial.

The second reason is Washington V. Harper, which allows forced medication of psychotic prisoners in the situation where they were dangerous to themselves or others.

So, again, I was confused. What's the debate?
The second key issue the brief addressed was the importance of permitting authorities who have custody of a defendant to make decisions of forcible medication without having to go through a time-consuming judicial hearing on the matter. ...

In addition, we believe psychiatrists working in correctional facilities need the flexibility to deal with dangerous persons without the delay involved in lengthy court proceedings.
The feds will not let Loughner see the light of day, whether he is tried or not. They can give him the death penalty for all I care.

But the psychiatrists want to use him as a precedent for forced psychiatric medication without court process.

These drugs not even very effective. They have nasty side effects. Loughner has not been convicted of anything, so the law should treat him as innocent until proven guilty. I think that this shows how horrible psychiatrists are, that they would want the power to drug unconvicted defendants without any due process.


Anonymous said...

At least Loughner has the right to refuse the drugs. In Santa Cruz County, Judge Heather Morse forces children to take drugs they don't need, drugs that make them sick.

George said...

I don't think that the courts have decided yet whether Loughner has the right to refuse the psychiatric drugs. He may still be forced.

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

It seems as if the courts are always in control of your destiny, guilty or not. Although, Loughner maybe guilty, he should be treated innocent until proven guilty before any conviction.

Tyler said...

I agree be proven innocent in tell proven guilty.