Why “Cheating the Hangman” Is Unethical

Brandon Joseph Rhode, a convicted killer who attempted suicide hours before he was to be put to death yesterday by injection, had his execution postponed by the Georgia Supreme Court. He tried to slit his wrists and his throat, but was stopped in time to save his life.

This happens every now and then, and when it does someone always asks why the State doesn’t just let the condemned do its job for them and let the prisoner die. The reason is that it would be wrong, in a couple of ways:

  1. The State metes out punishment; not the convicted. We don’t let those sentenced to jail build their own personal prisons, and we can’t let the condemned choose the place, time and manner of their execution. Committing suicide on death Row isn’t called “cheating the hangman” for nothing. If the State doesn’t punished.
  2. Suicide is a crime in most jurisdictions, and the State cannot be accessory to a crime.

Rhode’s attorneys, the clever scamps, are now arguing that the suicide attempt proves that Rhode is mentally incompetent, and thus under recent Supreme Court guidelines can’t be executed without violating the Constitution’s provision against “cruel and unusual punishment,” Brandon Joseph Rhode Allowing this argument to prevail would, of course, provide a “Get Off of Death Row Free” card to any condemned prisoner with the guts and wherewithal to make a failed suicide attempt. Georgia’s judges are not going to buy it, nor should they.

Rhode was convicted in 2000 of the killings of Steven Moss, 37, his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin during a burglary of their Jones County home. His execution has been rescheduled for later this week.

It was the right thing to do.

One thought on “Why “Cheating the Hangman” Is Unethical

  1. On the other hand, the condemned might be given a lecture on how to do it right! The question remains, though, as to how he acquired the means to inflict these injuries on himself. Speaking as one experienced in corrections, I’m aware that any suicidal prisoner or condemned one is routinely denied any implement by which he could possibly kill himself without considerable effort. I do recall one instance, however, where an “enterprising” prisoner tied a rolled up sheet to his bedpost and his neck… and did a backflip. That worked! Some things you just can’t guard against.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.