Jared Lee Loughner pleaded guilty Tuesday to going on a shooting rampage at a political gathering, killing six people and wounding his intended target, then-Congresswoman Gabriele Giffords, and 12 others.
Loughner’s plea spares him the death penalty and came soon after a federal judge found that months of forcibly medicating him to treat his schizophrenia had made the 23-year-old college dropout competent to understand the gravity of the charges and assist in his defense.
Under the plea, he will be sentenced to life in federal prison without the possibility of parole.
The outcome was welcomed by some victims, including Giffords herself, as a way to avoid a lengthy, possibly traumatic trial and years of legal wrangling over a death sentence.
"The pain and loss caused by the events of Jan. 8, 2011, are incalculable," Giffords said in a joint statement with her husband, Mark Kelly. "Avoiding a trial will allow us — and we hope the whole Southern Arizona community — to continue with our recovery."
Experts had concluded that Loughner suffers from schizophrenia, and officials at a federal prison have forcibly medicated him with psychotropic drugs for more than a year.
Wow. We forcibly make him competent in order to incarcerate him for life — just like how we forcibly make people competent in order to execute them. Will the treatment continue in prison? It’s likely, but not guaranteed.
While I’m glad he is being sentenced to life without parole, and I’m also happy victims are receiving closure, I still have serious issues with the forcible drugging of people who commit crimes in order to render them competent for trial or plea agreements. To me, that just speaks to the fact that the court is tacitly admitting the person was incompetent at the time of the offense, but since we can maybe restore competency long enough, meh
That’s just my thoughts. Again, I don’t think he WASN’T guilty, but I’m a little skeptical about forcibly medicating people.