- Symbolic sacrifice
- Artist confronts the issue
- Punishment and the New Right
- Why the harsh public opinion?
- U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence
- Criminal law and procedure
- The physician's role in state executions
- Medical ethics and end-of-life issues
- Why execution is not euthanasia
- Anesthesiologists and executions
- Ethical practice in health care
SYMBOLIC SACRIFICE -- Modern executions are made to appear as unlike killing as possible, says UC Davis Professor Allison Coudert, the Castelfranco Chair in Religious Studies. She points to prison protocols for execution including the last meal, sometimes served on starched linen tablecloths and preceded by saying grace. "People miss the fact that capital punishment is about symbolism and not deterrence," Coudert says. "When someone is executed, people think the state is dealing successfully with the problem of illegitimate violence, but of course it isn't in any meaningful way." Coudert can draw parallels between the history of religious sacrifice and the current practice of capital punishment in the U.S., including the fact that those killed are on the margins of society. She also sees a connection between current attitudes toward criminals and the rise to power of conservative religious groups with strong beliefs in original sin and retributive justice. In spring quarter, Coudert is co-teaching a forum on capital punishment. The public is invited to attend the lectures given in conjunction with the course. Contact: Allison Coudert, Religious Studies, (530) 752-7599, email@example.com.
ARTIST CONFRONTS THE ISSUE -- Malaquias Montoya, UC Davis professor of Chicana/o studies, and art and art history, can talk about how he has promoted a dialogue across the country about the ethics of capital punishment. In his exhibition, Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment -- Recent Works by Malaquias Montoya, the UC Davis artist confronts the viewer with his view of the brutality of capital punishment through a suite of paintings, charcoals, collages and drawings. The show, which will be presented at the UC Davis Richard L. Nelson Gallery beginning March 30, was first shown in 2004 at the Snite Museum at the University of Notre Dame and subsequently in Chicago, Washington, D.C., Texas and Los Angeles. The exhibition at UC Davis will be presented in conjunction with the religious studies program, which will teach a class on the ethics of the death penalty, concurrently with the Chicana/o studies program. The public is invited to attend. Two UC Davis online videos tell more about Montoya's anti-death project at http://media.ucdavis.edu:8080/ramgen/ucom/2005/montoya_I.rt.smil and http://media.ucdavis.edu:8080/ramgen/ucom/2005/montoya_II.rt.smil. Contact: Malaquias Montoya, Chicana/o Studies, (530) 752-4059, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PUNISHMENT AND THE NEW RIGHT -- Although the number of persons executed in the U.S. dwindled to nothing for nearly a decade beginning in the late 1960s, the increase in executions since the late 1970s goes hand in hand with the growth of modern conservatism, according to U.S. historian Kathryn Olmsted, a professor at UC Davis. She can talk about the reasoning behind a "get tough on crime" platform that the New Right has espoused since the tumultuous days of the mid-20th century. Olmsted, who wrote "Challenging the Secret Government" in 1996, is now working on a book regarding conspiracy theories about the U.S. government. Contact: Kathryn Olmsted, History, (530) 752-2118, email@example.com.
WHY THE HARSH PUBLIC OPINION? -- Cindy Kam, an assistant professor of political science at UC Davis, says that Americans' views about capital punishment are driven by a variety of factors, including their view of who criminals are, whether they can be rehabilitated and whether the criminal justice system is fair in its rulings. Kam, who examines the political psychology of public opinion, is looking at the role that in-group/out-group perspectives play in public opinion on crime and punishment. The study is part of a book she is co-authoring for 2008 on how perceptions of in-group/out-group demarcations also affect public opinion on foreign policy, immigration and social welfare policies. Contact: Cindy Kam, Political Science, (530) 752-2633, firstname.lastname@example.org.
REHABILITATION -- Bill Hing, professor of law and Asian American studies at UC Davis, is a member of the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, studying, in part, the extent to which failures in the administration of criminal justice have resulted in wrongful executions. Hing teaches judicial process, a course on criminal justice and how the system operates. "The criminal justice system has many flaws that include the failure to recognize the opportunity for rehabilitation," he says. Contact: Bill Hing, School of Law, (530) 754-9377, email@example.com.
U.S. SUPREME COURT JURISPRUDENCE -- Professor Diane Marie Amann of the UC Davis School of Law is an expert in international criminal law, human rights and constitutional law. She has two forthcoming articles on U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence in capital punishment cases involving juveniles and mentally retarded persons. Papers on "John Paul Stevens, Human Rights Judge" and "International Law and Rehnquist-Era Reversals" are, respectively, in press for the Fordham Law Review and the Georgetown Law Journal. Contact: Diane Marie Amann, School of Law, cell (310) 873-8552, firstname.lastname@example.org.
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE -- Professor Floyd Feeney of the UC Davis School of Law is an expert in criminal law and criminal procedure. He is author of the paper "The Death Penalty in the United States in 2003," published in the journal Politeia, and he teaches criminal law and criminal procedure courses. From 1968 to 1986 he was director of the UC Davis Center on the Administration of Criminal Justice. Contact: Floyd Feeney, School of Law, (530) 752-2893, email@example.com.
THE PHYSICIAN'S ROLE IN STATE EXECUTIONS -- Ben Rich, associate professor of bioethics at UC Davis School of Medicine, is an attorney and philosophy scholar who is available to talk about the many issues and implications related to the role of physicians in state-mandated executions. Rich has lectured and published extensively on the topics of informed consent, advance directives, pain management and end-of-life care. He has experience as a former litigation and health law specialist, administrative law judge, counsel for two academic medical centers, and general counsel of the University System. He holds joint academic appointments in the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at UC Davis. Contact: Carole Gan, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9047, firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEDICAL ETHICS AND END-OF-LIFE ISSUES -- Roberta Loewy is an associate clinical professor in the UC Davis Bioethics Program. She is a former critical-care nurse who pursued a master's degree in philosophy with an emphasis in health-care ethics, and a Ph.D. in philosophy and ethics. She also has taught bioethics in a number of settings and authored, co-authored and edited a number of books, articles and book chapters dealing with issues at the end of life, hospice, social justice, the nature of personhood and the relationship between persons and society. Along with Erich Loewy, professor of general medicine and chair of the UC Davis Bioethics Program, she co-authored the second edition of "Textbook of Healthcare Ethics." With regard to the Morales case, she believes that because an inmate on death row is not a patient "in any sense of the word," no physician should assist in his or her death. "Killing prisoners by medical means with health-care professional involvement constitutes killing otherwise healthy people who do not wish to die, using the tools and expertise of medicine," Loewy says. Standards of patient care, on the other hand, are patient-centered, even in physician-assisted suicide. "There is no standard of care for killing people who are healthy or who want to live," she says. Contact: David Ong, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9049, email@example.com.
WHY EXECUTION IS NOT EUTHANASIA -- Erich Loewy is professor of medicine and founding chair of the UC Davis Bioethics Program (emeritus). He argues against any participation of physicians in the execution of condemned prisoners with the tools (intellectual or physical) that he or she learned in medical school. It is understood by society as well as by the profession who take an oath upon graduation that they will do all they can "to keep their patient from harm or injustice." Physician participation in capital punishment cannot be equated with "euthanasia" or "physician-assisted suicide" in patients with decisional capacity because -- despite good palliative care and over a span of time -- such patients still desire to end their suffering. A patient with widespread metastases has only two options: to live a little longer and to suffer a little longer or to live and suffer for a shorter time. Executions, on the other hand, are done for the alleged benefit of the community. Even if prisoners say that they would prefer capital punishment to spending their life in prison, they fail to foresee a plethora of future possibilities. Contact: David Ong, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9049, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANESTHESIOLOGISTS AND EXECUTIONS -- Jeffrey Uppington is professor of anesthesiology and vice chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at UC Davis Health System. A specialist in cardiovascular and thoracic anesthesia, he is also district director of the California Society of Anesthesiologists and is a spokesperson for the American Society of Anesthesiologists, an educational, research and scientific association of physicians organized to raise and maintain the standards of the medical practice of anesthesiology and improve the care of the patient. He believes it is unethical for physicians or other health-care providers to take part in any part of an execution. Contact: Carole Gan, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9040, email@example.com.
ETHICAL PRACTICE IN HEALTH CARE -- Faith Fitzgerald is a professor of medicine and assistant dean of humanities and bioethics for the UC Davis Health System, where her research focuses on protean disease states, medical education, physical diagnosis and bioethics. A national expert on ethical practice in health care, she is frequently called upon to consult on issues where medical, legal and moral judgments converge. She finds the recent refusal of physicians to participate in administering a lethal injection to a death-row prisoner completely warranted. "Doctors must be very careful not to delude themselves into the belief that making it easier for anyone to kill a human being against his will is in any way analogous to any known 'acceptable standard of care' in medicine," she said. "For a physician to facilitate executions is a violation of the most fundamental principle of medical ethics -- to do no harm -- and must be opposed." Contact: Carole Gan, UC Davis Health System, (916) 734-9047 firstname.lastname@example.org.