LA Times — Videotapes released Thursday by a federal court show mentally ill prisoners in California being forced from their cells by guards who douse them repeatedly with pepper spray.
Some of the inmates are being forced to comply with medication orders; others are to be moved to new cells.
The six tapes, created by guards abiding by a state policy to record all cell extractions, were shown in court in October as part of a lawsuit by inmates' lawyers seeking a ban on the use of pepper spray against the mentally ill. The tapes were ordered released by U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton, who is holding hearings on the issue in Sacramento.
In one tape shot in July of last year at California State Prison at Corcoran, a screaming, naked prisoner is sprayed five times in 15 minutes before being tackled to the ground by about half a dozen guards and then strapped to a gurney.
His prison psychiatrist testified that the psychotic inmate had lost touch with reality and needed emergency medication.
"When we order involuntary medications, the inmate is told they will receive medications whether they like it or not," said the psychiatrist, Dr. Ernest Wagner.
Lawyers representing some 30,000 mentally ill prisoners say the tapes show excessive force, the abuse of men who may have little understanding of what is happening to them or why.
"The mentally ill are being punished for their mental illness," Jeffrey Bornstein, a San Francisco attorney representing inmates, told the judge. continue reading...