05/14/2012 02:35 pm ET Updated May 14, 2012

Steven Staley's Impending Execution Raises Mental Health Questions

Steven Staley's lawyer claims the state of Texas wants to drug his client so that he can be executed.

The AP reports that Staley was convicted of shooting and killing a restaurant manager who was taken hostage during a failed robbery in 1989.

He was declared competent to stand trial, but his mental health has continued to be an issue, especially as his execution date approaches. In order for someone to be killed by the state, they must be able to understand why they are being put to death.

Staley's lawyer, John Stickels, told the AP his client suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, and seemed to imply that the only way his client would be fit to be executed is if he were forced to take his medicine. A state District Court Judge previously ordered that Staley could be forcefully medicated.

In the same decision, the judge found that, without his meds, Staley was unfit to be executed, according to Slate.

Kristin Houle, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, told The Huffington Post that Staley's case raises "serious alarm bells" for mental health professionals.

"The justification for forcible medication is that it's for the person's own benefit, but in this case it's for the benefit of the state," Houle said. "It's a gross perversion of mental health treatment."

UPDATE: Dotty Griffith, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sent this response to HuffPost. “Giving a person drugs to make him sane enough to execute may be the definition of insanity. But what do you expect from a state that still executes the mentally retarded?”

Hat tip: Fark