Choosing the lesser of two evils: A framework for considering the ethics of competency-for-execution evaluations

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Prisoners sentenced to death must be competent for execution before they can actually be executed (Ford v. Wainwright, 1986). The decision for many mental health professionals whether to conduct competence-for-execution evaluations may be fraught with complex ethical issues. Mental health professionals who do not personally support capital punishment may have a particularly difficult decision to make in this regard but should seriously consider the consequences of their decisions. This article applies Bush, Connell, and Denney's (2006) eight-step ethical decision-making model to the ethicality of deciding on or abstaining from conducting competence for execution evaluations. This article does not propose what decisions an individual evaluator should make regarding this work but rather presents a systematic guide for mental health professionals (particularly those who do not support capital punishment) to consider.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-157
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Forensic Psychology Practice
Volume10
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

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Ethics
Capital Punishment
Mental Health
Mental Competency
Prisoners
Decision Making

Keywords

  • Capital punishment
  • Competence
  • Competency for execution
  • Death penalty attitudes
  • Ethical decision making
  • Forensic evaluation
  • Objectivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

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abstract = "Prisoners sentenced to death must be competent for execution before they can actually be executed (Ford v. Wainwright, 1986). The decision for many mental health professionals whether to conduct competence-for-execution evaluations may be fraught with complex ethical issues. Mental health professionals who do not personally support capital punishment may have a particularly difficult decision to make in this regard but should seriously consider the consequences of their decisions. This article applies Bush, Connell, and Denney's (2006) eight-step ethical decision-making model to the ethicality of deciding on or abstaining from conducting competence for execution evaluations. This article does not propose what decisions an individual evaluator should make regarding this work but rather presents a systematic guide for mental health professionals (particularly those who do not support capital punishment) to consider.",
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