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Day 12: Use of Force

July 23rd, 2009

An interesting article popped up on that was about the policy of using force on an inmate. Up until this point I just assumed that the rule of thumb when an inmate gets out of hand is to do what you can to protect yourself, the rest of the staff and the other inmates and also to protect the inmate from his/herself.

Apparently I was wrong. The particular place that is featured in this article, the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office has 19-page guide on the rules of force and what type of force to use when. This particular sheriff has been charged with two felonies relating to a death of an inmate some five years ago.

There is a step-by-step program that the staff is supposed to follow when handling an inmate who has rebelled. Erica Blake writes, in this article titled, “Policy for Using Force is Restricted,” “Although employees must start with oral commands and a call for backup, the new policy lists the specific techniques that should and should not be used depending on the circumstances.” The article goes on to say that corrections officers in the past have faced charges for handling an inmate too roughly and going too far with the use of force. They are only supposed to do what is reasonable for that certain incident, and nothing more. Inmates have died at the hands of corrections officers from things like choke holds. Injuries also occur too. A discipline technique referred to as the “stun slap” is dangerous and has been deemed an unacceptable in prisons even though it was taught some years back. I’m not quite sure what a “stun slap” entails, I had a hard time finding the answer in my research. If you know what it means I’d love to find out as I am trying to learn as much as I can during this internship.

In order to keep their staff fully informed, many prisons are holding staff meetings because this has become such a big issue. Training officers are interested in providing the information to their staff that outlines exactly what they can and cannot use in order to protect them and to avoid any type of lawsuit that this situation can easily carry.

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