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Use of force

This presentation will increase the user's understanding of the risks associated with the use of restraints, tools to reduce risk, and the proper way to use restraints in custody. Issues discussed include:

  • Potential problems and concerns with the use of restraints;
  • Terminology, physiology, and medical risks associated with the application and use of restraints;
  • Planned and unplanned use of force;
  • The need for policy development, training, and monitoring;
  • Tools to reduce the risk for asphyxia and death;
  • The role and ethical limitations of medical and mental health problems;
  • And legal implications and liability.


Application and Use of Restraints Cover

These standards were developed to "articulate a set of principles to guide agencies and jurisdictions in the development of local policy and practice. These best practices are relevant across a variety of settings including criminal justice, juvenile justice, psychiatric and forensic hospitals, law enforcement transport, and others. This document refers and applies to both women (age 18 years and older) and girls (younger than age 18) who are pregnant, laboring and delivering, or in the post-partum period" (p. 1). Sections contained in this publication include: background; definitions; context and need; key principles; recommendations for operational practices; rationale—legal considerations, gender responsiveness, trauma-informed policy and practice, and human rights; and conclusion. Appendixes cover: supporting documents; and "The Legal Lens".

Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women Under Correctional Custody Cover

"It is well known that US prisons and jails have taken on the role of mental health facilities. This new role for them reflects, to a great extent, the limited availability of community-based outpatient and residential mental health programs and resources, and the lack of alternatives to incarceration for men and women with mental disabilities who have engaged in minor offenses … persons with mental disabilities who are behind bars are at heightened risk of physical mistreatment by staff. This report is the first examination of the use of force against inmates with mental disabilities in jails and prisons across the United States. It identifies policies and practices that lead to unwarranted force and includes recommendations for changes to end it" (p. 2). This report includes these sections: summary; key recommendations; background—disproportionate representation of individuals with mental disabilities in U.S. jails and prisons; life behind bars for persons with mental disabilities; the case of Jermaine Padilla; approaches to use of force; types of force used and their harms for prisoners with mental disabilities; retaliatory and gratuitous use of force; applicable constitutional and international human rights law; and detailed recommendations.

Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons cover

"The indiscriminate shackling of youth unnecessarily humiliates, stigmatizes, and traumatizes them. The practice impedes the attorney-client relationship, chills juveniles’ constitutional right to due process, runs counter to the presumption of innocence, and draws into question the rehabilitative ideals of the juvenile court. CAIJS works with advocates, judges, members of the media, and medical professionals in states across the country to both educate stakeholders on the harms of shackling young people, and promote laws, regulations, and court orders prohibiting the shackling of young people during juvenile proceedings unless the judge makes an affirmative finding that the specific child is a danger in the courtroom or a flight risk." Information on this website includes: resources—"Model Statute / Court Rule", "Shackling Reform Statewide, Administrative Orders & Statutes" (June 2015), "Ending Universal Shackling of Children in Court—Webinar", and CAIJS Fact Sheet on Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling; affidavits regarding indiscriminate shackling of juveniles from experts in the field; policy statements and position papers from national associations; American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section Resolution and Report to the House of Delegates.

Campaign Against Indiscriminate Juvenile Shackling (CAIJS) cover

This article is an excellent resource for those who want a basic understanding of those civil issues impacting the use of pepper spray and other chemical agents by law enforcement and correctional officers. "Pepper Spray (OC) and other chemical weapons are intended and designed to be used as disabling agents, for law enforcement officers and correctional personnel to use to attempt to overcome resistance, and to subdue persons with minimal injuries to officers, arrestees and others. Chemical weapons can be used in situations in which a disturbance involves a number of people, but they also are effective against an actively resisting individual. This is not a technical article, and it does not survey the wide variety of specific chemical weapons available to law enforcement and correctional personnel, or to assess their pros and cons. Rather, the focus is to briefly look at how courts have discussed their use in the context of civil lawsuits for excessive force" (Part 1, p. 101). Sections of this article include: introduction; use by law enforcement, use on handcuffed persons; warnings; crowds and bystanders; the aftermath of their use; New Orleans Consent Decree; correctional settings; and suggestions to consider.

Civil Liability for the Use of Pepper Spray (OC), Tear Gas, and Chemical Agents, Part 1 [and] Part 2 Cover

Distraction devices (such as flashbangs) are especially useful when "correctional personnel are dealing with unruly prisoners or detainees who must be brought under control or extracted from their cells in a safe and controlled manner … Such devices must be properly used by adequately trained personnel, skilled in both legal aspects and practical tactical considerations surrounding their intelligent deployment. Their deployment is a use of force. Although non-lethal in most instances, improper use can result in injury to both members of the public and officers themselves" (p. 1). The use of distraction devices and civil lawsuits associated with them are discussed. Sections of this series include: introduction; use in a home or building entry; use in correctional settings; use in street settings; damage awards; injuries to officers; and some suggestions worth considering.

Civil Liability for Use of Distraction Devices Part 1 [and] Part 2 Cover

"This standard specifies the minimum requirements for form and fit, performance, testing, documentation and labeling of restraints intended to be used by criminal justice personnel to restrain subjects. This standard addresses only wrist to wrist and ankle to ankle restraints. This standard does not specify requirements for aftermarket keys or any accessories. All testing required in this standard shall be performed with no accessories attached. This standard does not address any restraint constructed of natural/nonsynthetic materials (e.g., leather, natural rubber, cotton). "(p. 1).

Criminal Justice Restraints Standard NIJ Standard 1001.00 Cover

“Many youth in custody are forced to appear in court shackled with leg irons, belly chains, and handcuffs. The practice of restraining youth who pose no safety threat unnecessarily humiliates, stigmatizes, and traumatizes young people. Shackling youth is inconsistent with the rehabilitative goals of the juvenile justice system and offends due process. Juvenile defenders involved in the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) developed a variety of strategic innovations to end the indiscriminate shackling of youth and the successes have been widely replicated across the nation” (p. 1).

Eliminating the Practice of Indiscriminate Shackling of Youth Cover

"Excited delirium syndrome (ExDS) is a serious and potentially deadly medical condition involving psychotic behavior, elevated temperature, and an extreme fight-or-flight response by the nervous system. Failure to recognize the symptoms and involve emergency medical services (EMS) to provide appropriate medical treatment may lead to death … Law enforcement organizations should take steps to increase officer awareness of ExDS and its symptoms and develop procedures to engage the medical community when identified. Without placing themselves or others at a greater risk for physical harm, officers must be able to rapidly detect symptoms of ExDS and immediately engage EMS for proper diagnosis and medical treatment. Failure to do so may prove fatal" (p. 1). Sections of this article include: historical data and cases reviewed— excited delirium-associated death after handcuffing/hog-tying, after major physical struggle, after TASER use, and with no police presence; medical background to ExDS; clinical presentation—distinct and recognizable features; treatments—control, medical assessment, and the potential for ketamine use; and conclusion.

Excited Delirium and the Dual Response: Preventing In-Custody Deaths Cover

"As a consequence of the failed mental illness treatment system, an increasing number of individuals with untreated serious mental illness are encountering law enforcement officers, sometimes with tragic results. “Justifiable homicides,” [arrest-related deaths (ARDs)] in which an individual is killed by a law enforcement officer in the line of duty, may occur when criminals are being pursued, as in a bank robbery, or when an officer is threatened with a weapon, in other situations" (p. 3). This report examines the available information about justifiable homicides and concludes with recommendations for addressing critical issues involving the transfer of responsibility for mentally ill individuals from mental health professionals to law enforcement personnel.

Justifiable Homicides by Law Enforcement Officers: What is the Role of Mental Illness? Cover


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