Mentally ill inmates abused in 5,000 US detention centers

FLORENCE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28: Immigrant detainees walk through the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), detention facility on February 28, 2013 in Florence, Arizona. With the possibility of federal budget sequestration, ICE released 303 immigration detainees in the last week from detention facilities throught Arizona. Most detainees typically remain in custody for several weeks before they are deported to their home country, while others remain for longer periods while their immigration cases work through the courts. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch has issued a report stating that mentally ill prisoners are being abused in detention facilities across the US, and that these practices are happening in over 5,000 facilities.

The activist group says inmates are being subjected to unnecessary and excessive use of force, and the problem is widespread.

The report provides details of cases where inmates were shocked with Tasers, and where pepper spray was used against them.

In some cases, prisoners were left in restraint chairs for days, or put in scalding showers.

“I think the public and legislators for far too long have been willing to send people to prison, without thinking a whole lot about what life behind bars [is like]. And what goes on behind bars is often hidden, people don’t know what is happening,” Jamie Fellner, one of the report’s authors and senior adviser at Human Rights Watch, told RT.

She added that prison authorities “don’t issue monthly reports on how many people they have pepper-sprayed, or how many people have had Tasers used against them.”

“What we wanted to focus on was <…> the fact that in so many cases when force wasn’t required, when you had non-violent, minor non-threatening misconduct by a prisoner that didn’t need to be responded to with force,” Fellner concluded.

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