A new study by Human Rights Watch charges that jail and prison staff throughout the United States have used “unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force against prisoners with mental disabilities.” And yet, it’s nearly impossible to know just how many have suffered or died, since jails and prisons are not required to report on the use of force by guards.
In a 127-page report titled “Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons,” Human Rights Watch reportedly reviewed “hundreds of individuals and class action court cases, Justice Department investigations, and interviewed more than 125 current and former corrections officials.”
According to the organization, one in five prisoners in the U.S. has a serious mental illness, whether its schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression. Approximately 5% are actively psychotic at “any given moment.”
Though no national data on inmate mistreatment is readily available, Human Right Watch’s shocking report reveals detailed incidents of physical abuse. The organization reports that “painful chemical sprays,” shocking “inmates with powerful electric stun weapons,” and strapping “inmates for days in restraining chairs or beds” are just some of the forms of abuse used on those inmates with mental disabilities.
In certain cases, prison staff have broken the prisoners’ jaws, noses and ribs. Some inmates are left with “lacerations requiring stitches, second-degree burns, deep bruises, and damaged internal organs.” The use of force on some inmates has led to their death.
And yet, it’s nearly impossible to know just how many have suffered or died, since jails and prisons are not required to report on the use of force by guards.
Sounds more and more like we need a complete overhaul of our correctional system. Agree or disagree? Sound off below!
- The Off The Grid Team
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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