We are glad that on December 11, 2005, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the APA Ethics Committee for a new annotation. Section 7, Annotation 5: “Psychiatrists shall not participate in torture.”
We hope that torture will include psychological trauma we inflict on people on death row. Last March 2005 the Puerto Rico Psychiatric Society expressed our position towards the death penalty:
In short it is Death to the death penalty on the following grounds:
A 1969 resolution of the Board of Trustees of the APA called for the abolition of the death penalty and declared that the best available scientific and expert opinion holds it to be anachronistic, brutalizing, ineffective and contrary to progress in penology and forensic psychiatry'.
Before his retirement in 1994 Judge Harry A Blakcmun spoke in favor of the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. He said that in practice it is capricious, unjust and filled with errors of fact, legal and moral errors.
Many years ago Professor Louis Jolvon West, MD of the University of California, said that capital punishment is out of fashion, is immoral, cruel, brutalizing, unjust, ineffective, and dangerous and that it obstructs justice.
Observations by psychiatrists demonstrate that the death penalty generates illness on account of prisoner torture, perverts the identity of physician that is converted to torturers. It also promotes more assassinations than those that it prevents.
The Puerto Rico Chapter of the American Psychiatric Association is against the death penalty in Puerto Rico because
It deprives the person of his right to life
It deprives the person the right to dignity
It deprives the person of the possibility to rehabilitation
It deprives society of the possibility of amending an erroneous guilty verdict
It is psychologically similar to a premeditated assassination
It adds psychopathology and suffering to the aggressor’s family
It adds psychopathology and suffering to the victim’s family
It is not self defense of society but premeditated vengeance
It leads to a prolonged sadistic legal process
Is is anti cultural in Puerto Rico
Nestor J Galarza, MD
for the http://www.puertoricopsychiatricsociety.org