U.S. District Judge Larry Burns approves forced medication for Tuscon shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner

From the Overnight News Digest on Daily Kos:

Judge: Prison Can Forcibly Drug Tucson Suspect

Drug testingNPR

A judge ruled Wednesday that prison officials can forcibly give the Tucson shooting rampage suspect anti-psychotic drugs in a bid to make him mentally fit for trial.

U.S. District Judge Larry Burns' decision came after Jared Lee Loughner's attorneys filed an emergency request last week to prevent any forced medication of their client without approval from a judge. The judge said he did not want to second guess doctor's at the federal prison in Springfield, Mo., who determined that Jared Loughner was a danger.

Defense attorneys said Loughner had been forcibly medicated since June 21.

This ruling can set a dangerous precedent - one that was already avoided in another case which may be familiar to our readers: the story of Susan Lindauer, as told in Symbol Susan - "Thought this be madness..." as well as other pieces, several by guest contributor Michael Collins. In particular, check out Michael Collins: Did Justice Order Forced Psych Medication?. It's an eye-opener.

While I'm certainly no fan of Loughner, and I'd like to see a trial, the history behind forced medication - particularly in light of events tied to the Susan Lindauer prosecution/persectution - raises some troubling questions.

What's your take? Comments are open below the fold.


No votes yet


Where there's evidence that lack of medication leads directly to violence and harm, then it's probably a good idea. In Loughner's case - he killed people. His defense rests on the 'why' and without medication, it's not possible to defend him. It's not irrational to assume there's also a possibility he might try and harm himself.

If the desired outcome though is just to make someone a zombie, there's no point.

But that doesn't really address the realities of the use of forced medication.

The bigger issue is can we trust persons in authority to make educated decisions without prejudice and bias. And sadly these days, increasingly the answer is no.


I don't believe there is a way to ensure that the line between "necessary" and "abusive" usage isn't crossed. We've seen too much abuse, and too much attempted abuse, along with pseudo-legalese justification for denying basic human rights...there's far too much capacity and apparent impetus for abuse for there to be any comfort level with it.

Folks like Loughner likely do need medication; but how can the public be sure that what we're hearing is enough of the truth so that other cases which may not be so clear-cut can be properly assessed?