Human Rights Watch: Jail and prison staff throughout the United States have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today.
The 127-page report, “Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons,” details incidents in which correctional staff have deluged prisoners with painful chemical sprays, shocked them with powerful electric stun weapons, and strapped them for days in restraining chairs or beds. Staff have broken prisoners’ jaws, noses, ribs; left them with lacerations requiring stitches, second-degree burns, deep bruises, and damaged internal organs. In some cases, the force used has led to their death.
“Jails and prisons can be dangerous, damaging, and even deadly places for men and women with mental health problems,” said Jamie Fellner, US program senior adviser at Human Rights Watch and the author of the report. “Force is used against prisoners even when, because of their illness, they cannot understand or comply with staff orders.”