Sane enough to die

Palm Beach Post, Feb. 17, 2003 (Editorial)

For those who wonder why America’s fixation on the death penalty strikes other civilized countries as bizarre, consider the case of Charles Singleton.

First, he’s a killer. He stabbed a man to death 24 years ago, and he’s on Death Row in Arkansas. He’s also a paranoid schizophrenic who considers himself to be God and the Supreme Court. He thinks demons possess his cell. Arkansas wants to execute him, but it’s illegal to execute the mentally ill.

Not to worry. Last week, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said doctors can give Singleton enough drugs to treat his illness, making him sane enough for the state to kill him. In other words, if he wants to live, he must stay ill. If he wants to get better, he dies.

Obviously, none of this excuses what happened in 1979. But the public will be protected if Singleton never leaves prison. By pursuing this case to such ludicrous ends, however, the country is looking nearly as bad as the man Arkansas wants to kill.

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