Suicide By Court

November 11, 2008

Lethal injection kit © AI
Lethal injection kit © AI

On November 21, Kentucky is set to execute Marco Allen Chapman, who was sentenced to death for the murder of two children in 2002.  He rejected efforts to defend him at trial, and has refused to pursue any appeals.  Since the moment of his arrest, when he asked police to shoot him in the head, Chapman has been trying to commit “state-assisted suicide”, or “suicide by Court”.  Next Friday, Kentucky may well grant him his wish.

Such voluntary executions are not a rare occurrence.  About 130, or more than 10% of all executions since 1977, have been “volunteers”.  In some states with a small number of executions (Connecticut, Idaho, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota), “volunteers” have been the only prisoners successfully put to death. 

The state should not be in the business of killing, even (or maybe especially) when a prisoner wants to be killed.  The state’s participation in this kind of lurid charade is unseemly and degrading.  Tell Kentucky Governor Beshear to prevent this “voluntary” execution!