Euthanasia for prisoners is a horrible idea no matter how appealing it seems. Governments first take away justice by ending the death penalty, and then reintroduce a way to kill prisoners based on “compassion” or “mercy.” It is a terrible exchange.
The pioneer case comes to us from Belgium (which should surprise no one). It is easy to applaud the man’s death. He is a murderer and a multiple rapist. He should have been executed and not wasted a dime more of taxpayer money.
But just because the end result is just doesn’t mean we are wise to ignore the means and the official rationale by which he arrived at that destination. Killing Frank Van Den Bleeken has nothing to do with the state fulfilling its obligation to society by executing a killer and rapist. They have already “evolved” past such barbaric customs.
Instead, they are now going to kill the man because they got him to beg for it. As AFP reports,
Frank Van Den Bleeken, who has spent the past 30 years in prison for repeated rape convictions and a rape-murder, has for years requested that the state help him end his life due to “unbearable psychic suffering”, lawyer Jos Vander Velpen told Belgian television.
Van Den Bleeken, considering himself a menace to society, had refused to be considered for early parole, but found the conditions of his detention inhumane.
He had requested a transfer to a specialised psychiatric centre in The Netherlands for treatment or, failing that, a mercy killing.
Belgian authorities denied the transfer request earlier this year. A source close to the case said Van Den Bleeken had been informed that a new centre providing appropriate psychiatric care would open later this year in Belgium.
But the convict, who in 30 years left prison only once — to attend his mother’s funeral — opted to pursue euthanasia, for which he had already received medical approval.
First of all, if his prison sentence is life imprisonment, then Van Den Bleeken is escaping his sentence. I think death is a just penalty for his crimes, but that is not why he is being killed.
Secondly, he is not even being executed because he is a life prisoner. In theory, if he found the prospect of a five year sentence “unbearable” then the state could kill him just as dead once they got him to make repeated requests from prison. So this could all happen, in theory, to a man guilty of a lesser offense, if he could not stand to be in prison for whatever length of time was ahead of him.
And what happens in the future when we need to cut costs due to “austerity”? A sentence of a few years would represent a financial burden to the tax base. Perhaps we will start seeing payment offers so that, if a prison will opt for this deathly “early release,” his family gets some of the money that he saves the state by his early death.
Anything is possible. The mercy-killing state will never allow justice to restrain its power over life and death.