Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Please not "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth"

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.

Our position:

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