In a disturbing development out of California, six videotapes have emerged that show prison guards using pepper spray on mentally ill inmates as a means to force them to take their medication — or to transport them from cell to cell.
The videotapes are to be used as evidence in a lawsuit that seeks to outlaw the use of pepper spray on mentally ill inmates.
One of the videos published by the Los Angeles Times shows a nude inmate being pepper-sprayed five before being violently slammed to the concrete floor.
“When we order involuntary medications, the inmate is told they will receive medications whether they like it or not,” Dr. Ernest Wagner said in court testimony.
Dr. Wagner claimed the prisoner was forced medication because he was suicidal, going on to say that if the meds weren’t administered, the prisoner “would have died.”
But according to the Times report, the prisoner’s sentence was extended because he refused orders from the guards — whom he may not even have understood due to his mental state.
The backwards logic of the prison’s policy is astounding: guards pepper spray prisoners to give medication to prevent them from being suicidal, but in turn extend their prison sentences as a result of their “suicidal” behavior.
According to the Huffington Post:
A 2006 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that over half of all jail and prison inmates have mental health issues; an estimated 1.25 million suffered from mental illness, over four times the number in 1998.
Research suggests that people with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system by rates of two to four times the normal population. The severity of these illnesses vary, but advocates say that one factor remains steady: with proper treatment, many of these incarcerations could have been avoided.
Watch one of the prison videos below: