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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Ethical Responsibilities of Physicians: Capital Punishment in the 21st Century

Karen B. Rosenbaum, MD; William Connor Darby, MD; Robert Weinstock, MD

Psychiatric Annals


The United States is in the company of only 22 other countries with the death penalty.

The American Medical Association is among many medical professional organizations that prohibit the participation of physicians in the physical act of execution.

Despite these clear guidelines, debate remains regarding physician involvement in various aspects of death penalty cases.

This article outlines different positions that physicians and specifically forensic psychiatrists have taken on this issue.

Our position is that given the overwhelming secondary duty related to their physician role - specifically to do no harm - forensic psychiatrists should not use their expertise if they believe their involvement will be used for the primary purpose of obtaining a death penalty. 

Of necessity, forensic evaluations can do harm. But when something as extreme as death is concerned, the secondary medical duties preclude directly facilitating a person's death. [Psychiatr Ann. 2015;45(12):615 - 621.]

Source: healio.com, December 11, 2015

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