September 30, 2011
In a nutshell, a convict serving a life sentence is suing the prison for saving his life.
I have some thoughts.
Daniel Self has made his thoughts about DNR clear to the prison. They are under not to resuscitate him. Self suffers from sleep apnea, a condition that causes him to stop breathing during his sleep and in this case led to his near-death.
He is in jail for murder and is serving a life sentence. A life sentence has no set ending but ends, obviously, when the inmate dies. The length of the sentence is not set. It can be years or days depending on the lifespan, so if the inmate dies the day after the sentence he has served the full term of the sentence. Self did not try to commit suicide, which some could argue is a way to circumvent life in prison. (I’m not sure I’d make that argument, but it could be made.) This was a case of someone dying (almost) of natural causes so take out any intent of avoiding his sentence. Like millions of others, the inmate made a perfectly legal DNR request, meaning no methods like CPR be used to revive him.
I doubt DNRs are posted on cell doors and I doubt the guards knew he had one. And remember- this was not in a hospital environment. I assume the guards acted fast and properly saving his life. No way would they be expected to wait around while someone checked to see if there was a DNR. If an error has to be made, I’d prefer it to be made on the side of saving someone’s life, not ending it.
Self is now suing the state. I am not sure what he is suing for. Money? I don’t know what his damages are. His release? That is interesting. It could be argued that when his heart stopped his life ended and he has therefore served his life sentence and he should be let out. Is it fair to save someone’s life and force him to serve possible decades more in jail?
This is almost the opposite of a death penalty argument.
Is it cruel and unusual punishment to save a man’s life only to force him to serve a life sentence in jail?
The question in Imponderable.