Treating those found incompetent for execution: ethical chaos with only one solution. Journal Article uri icon



  • In early 1988 the population on America's death rows climbed above the 2,000 mark for the first time in history. In 1986 the United States Supreme Court firmly stated that the Constitution will have been violated if any of these prisoners is put to death while mentally incompetent for execution. In this article we discuss the case of Gary Alvord, the only inmate to be formally found incompetent for execution in modern times. Interviews with psychiatrists and mental health professionals at the Florida psychiatric hospital where Alvord was treated between 1984 and 1987 reveal much ambivalence and anger about the case. We conclude that, out of respect for the rights of these mental health professionals and the ethical codes of their professions, any prisoner found incompetent for execution should have his or her death sentence commuted to long-term imprisonment before treatment is requested or given.

publication date

  • January 1, 1988

has subject area

Date in CU Experts

  • September 9, 2013 1:25 AM

Full Author List

  • Radelet ML; Barnard GW

author count

  • 2

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0091-634X

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 297

end page

  • 308


  • 16


  • 4