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Report details abuse of mentally ill inmates in US prisons

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h2615 (Published 13 May 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h2615
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Staff working in prisons in the United States often use “unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force” on prisoners with mental illness, says a report by Human Rights Watch, released on 12 May.1

The report details instances in which mentally ill inmates were subjected to abusive treatment, including being beaten, shocked with electric stun devices, pepper sprayed, kept in restraints for days, and held in solitary confinement for months to years.

The report found that prison staff often responded with violence “when prisoners engage in behavior that is symptomatic of their mental …

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