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California Prison & Criminal Justice News & Events + 3 Strikes Do you have news relating to California's Prison or Ciminal Justice System and related efforts? Post them here! Also discuss 3 Strike laws.

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  #1  
Old 11-17-2004, 02:08 PM
Onita Lee Onita Lee is offline
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Default Over Usage Of Pepper Spray

I've noticed reference to "pepper spray" in several articles (newspapers, magazines,etc.) and it's misuse. I'm sure most people haven't a clue as to why this substance is so dangerous. It's the capsaicin (ingredient in hot peppers) which is the culprit.

This chemicle in large doses is extremely dangerous. It burns the skin, causes heavy amounts of mucos to form in the nose, throat and lungs. It effects your thinking ability (confusion,delierium), it makes your lungs and throat constrict, which prevents you from breathing and it can cause your heart to stop beating.

One short spray of this stuff into the face of a person is enough to slow down their momentum. However, these articles make reference to heavy amounts used on inmates, a contributing cause of their deaths. If you were to look up "capsaicin", you would then see how this stuff is so leathal.

The recent lawsuit filed in Los Angles by the family of inmate, Anthony Brown, is a prime example of what pepper spray does to a person. Mr.Brown was mentally impaired and wore a spitters mask. This pepper spray was sprayed up inside this mask by the correctional officers "several times". As a result, Mr.Brown died of suffocation. This is like having a bag over your head then it was filled up with pepper spray!!

What's your input on the use of pepper spray? Do you think it's too leathal to be used on mental patients or anyone else for that matter?

Onita Lee
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  #2  
Old 11-17-2004, 02:25 PM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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The pepper spray we use at work is "Oleoresin Capsicum". When it was introduced into CDC in 1997 we were only allowed to use 2 second bursts. But over the years as long term studies had been conducted it was determined that it had no long term effects so that changed. The only deaths I have heard of from OC had other factors involved. The current one with the spit mask is a good example.

I wouldn't have sprayed an inmate with a spit mask on, seems like common sense to me but I don't want to Monday Morning Quarterback as I wasn't there. Since that incident they have changed the policy so that you can't spray in inmate in a spit mask.

There are also the rare individuals who are allergic to OC. I have seen a few of those as well.

The thing with OC is that after 30-45 minutes of exposure there are no lasting effects. OC itself is not the problem, it is the other factors.

Chemical Agents are a vital part of our job. They allow us to deal with things such as riots and assaultive inmates without having to use Lethal Force.
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  #3  
Old 11-27-2004, 04:19 AM
jodie jodie is offline
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my feelings about the use of pepper spray is, no need to use it. If an inmate starts to get out of hand, i'm sure 2-3 guards could handle him without the brutal use of the spray. You say that it is to be used in minute doses, but in the heat of conflict, someone using pepper spray may not think fast and go way overboard in its use. I'm sure that when it's used on an inmate, some of it surly has to have some effect the guards too. No matter what type of control is used, there will always be those who have to overdue to the degree that it causes deadly harm to the one it is inflicted on. My good friend, who was in the same yard, but at a distance from a fight where tear gas was used for control, his throat and mouth burned for several days just from the gasses in the air, so I can imagine how pepper spray could be used a a death tool if not used properly and at a 1-2 second spray. Killing inmates has to stop, there is no justification for it.
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Old 11-27-2004, 11:49 AM
PTO56489 PTO56489 is offline
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My understanding is...and please correct me if I am wrong.... In the yard if things get out of hand they will use a "cannon" to spray the pepper spray !! EVERYONE in the yard is affected even those who weren't involved in whatever incident is going down

I am not sure how I feel about the use of pepper spray. As Sgt mentioned it is a good alternative to lethal force !!! ??? I'd much rather have my loved one hit with pepper spray than to be hit with a bullet that wasn't intended for him. *shrugs*

Last edited by PTO56489; 11-27-2004 at 11:50 AM..
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  #5  
Old 11-27-2004, 11:54 AM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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I think the cannon you are refering to is the Water Cannon that is used in some Ad/Seg Yards. It can shoot water or water with OC mixed it. But even it doesn't get all the inmates on the yard, but it will get all the ones in the area of the incident. And like I said, only some Ad/Segs have them. They are not on mainlines.
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  #6  
Old 11-27-2004, 11:59 AM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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Jodie, You would rather Guards use brute force than pepper spray? I have seen thousands of inmate get sprayed and 99.9% of them are fine 30 minutes later. Do you think that would be the case if guards used physical force? Not to mention if there is more than one inmate fighting there is a risk to the staff who have to get close enough to get involved.

Your friend that got tear gased and felt it for days probably got a dose of CN or CS gas. Those are entirely different than OC.
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Old 11-27-2004, 01:00 PM
jodie jodie is offline
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No I'm not saying to use brute force, but from all i've read in newspapers about pepper spray, only one inmate at a time was sprayed and death occured, with only one inmate, i'm sure that 2-3 guards could get them under control. Brute force is no good either, and i think it's also used to much and to deadly results. There has to be some humane way to keep the single inmate from being killed. I'm not saying that if there are numerous inmates involved in an incendent that harsher means can't be used, both for the safety on guards and inmates. You seem to take everything anyone says and turn it around to use against us, thus we are loosing our free will of thought and speech.
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Old 11-27-2004, 01:43 PM
GC GC is offline
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Jodie,

I understand what you are thinking but with any Law Enforcement the last option is to use physical force. Two or three against one is not always going to be enough. Many people are trained in martial arts or boxing or are just too strong and you never know what you are up against. Drug use is another factor that could make a person uncontrollable through merely physical force. Also remember that our goal is to restrain a person and that persons goal may be to seriously injure someone. Unfortunately it is not so easy as you think to simply choose three people to tackle one.

The great majority of the time, pepper spray will subdue a person enough so that he can be handcuffed and escorted to medical and the effects of pepper spray are minimal. It is almost always the first method used to subdue individuals...after verbal commands and/or the sound of an alarm fails to stop whatever is happening. One short spray to the face is not always enough. People who are exposed to it often enough, which includes both inmates and CO's, are sometimes able to function pretty well after being sprayed. Some people reach a point where they are barely effected at all.
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  #9  
Old 11-27-2004, 04:58 PM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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I was not twisting anyones words.

Quote:
If an inmate starts to get out of hand, i'm sure 2-3 guards could handle him without the brutal use of the spray.
That is what you said. How are 2-3 guards going to handle a disruptive inmate without Physical Force? Maybe I misunderstood you. What is it those 2-3 guards are going to do to maintain control of that disruptive inmate?
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  #10  
Old 11-27-2004, 07:25 PM
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My Husband's Pod got pepper sprayed to much.....Everyone was gasping for air.....No Windows just a heating vent......No Air......It was really bad......It took longer than 30 minutes for the men to feel normal......some even sued and they won......If it's not bad for the men....Why did they win?
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Old 11-27-2004, 09:15 PM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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Never heard of a lawsuit over Pepper Spray. And you can't pepper spray an entire pod, it only effects those that it hits and it is a liquid. You are probably thinking of CN or CS gas. I have heard of lawsuits concerning those chemical agents but no one won. As usual the state settled out of court.

We are only allowed to use CS outside. The effects take a lot longer to go away as well.

Edit: Just wanted to add that with all exposures to chemical agents we are required to decontaminate any inmate exposed. That could be another factor for the lawsuit if the staff failed to decontaminate the inmates.

Last edited by SGT Anonymous; 11-27-2004 at 09:28 PM..
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  #12  
Old 11-27-2004, 10:03 PM
JuliaJVRose JuliaJVRose is offline
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Default Pepper spray cans

I am curious to know if there is a certain size of canister that is used specifically at the prisons and what amount of spray is in those cans. Also, are the canisters designed for multiple uses, crowd control and if so for what size crowd or are they for single uses for one individual?
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  #13  
Old 11-28-2004, 12:58 AM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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The ones we carry on us are 12 oz I believe. They only have 4-6 seconds worth of spray in them and are usefull for up to small groups of inmates ( I would say no more than 4 or 5 inmates fighting).

There are larger ones that we keep in staging areas that are the size of Fire Extinguishers that hold 46 oz (I think). They have wands on them that shoot a stream that goes a lot farther then the hand held ones. We use those for larger fights.

All Pepper Spray is direct aim. You have to directly spray the target or be close enough to have it splash on you.

When entire housing units or yards have big riots we use CN grenades that send gas out to cover large areas. With those, anyone in the area is exposed.
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Old 11-28-2004, 12:00 PM
Yasmeen Yasmeen is offline
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Pepperspray can be lethal for asthmatics and anyone else with health issues. It can also be lethal for children, as I see pepperspray used on small children in juvenile detention. I think its use should be banned for juveniles. Also, we were in the visiting room at Lancaster one day when all of a sudden everyone started coughing. Apparently they sprayed some inmates to break up a fight on another yard. Until that day, I had never even smelled pepperspray. I can remember how we all kept trying to breathe with that stuff in the air. It took almost an hour for visitors to stop coughing, and the spray had come from another yard....!
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  #15  
Old 11-28-2004, 12:18 PM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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Yes, Pepper Spray's main problems come from people with breathing issues. But we have no way of knowing ahead of time who those people are ahead of time.

I would also agree that small children should not be Pepper Sprayed. However, lets not forget that wards can stay in CYA until the age of 25. So removing it from CYA altogether is a bad idea, in my opinion.
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Old 11-28-2004, 06:42 PM
jodie jodie is offline
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I'm sorry SGT, I realize they you and the other CDC employee's are at risk everyday, but just wish that there was some way that inmates could be controled without being killed. Aren't they chained when they are being moved from one place to another? If so, surely this is the best way for controling them and both the CDC and inmate would be safer. I just feel that any death is one death way too many. From whatever the cause.
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Old 11-28-2004, 07:32 PM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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Only Ad/Seg and SHU inmates are handcuffed for everyday movement. Level IV Inmates are supposed to cuffed if they leave the yard but thats it.

I know that even one death is too many, but when you look at the number of inmates that are exposed to Pepper Spray vs the number of inmates that have serious medical problems/death from it you see that there is a VERY slim chance of it happening. Like I said before, I have seen literally thousands of inmates sprayed with OC in my career and there were only a few that needed medical attention after the fact. None of them died.
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Old 11-29-2004, 02:27 PM
froggysangel froggysangel is offline
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Sgt,
From some of your above posts I understand that you are saying if pepper spray is used it only affects the person sprayed. Question: If it is used in an enclosed area like Ad Seg or the SHU in order to help cell extract an inmate doesn't it get into the other cells? I have heard that when this happens all the inmates in the pod end up coughing, with tearing eyes etc. I take it these inmates are not decontaminated because they are not sprayed directly. Isn't the residue from the spray around for a while and does it not get into the other cells on the walls or floors for example?
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Old 11-29-2004, 05:01 PM
Officer Anonymous Officer Anonymous is offline
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Default Handcuffed Movement

Not true, Sergeant,

All movement on 1st watch and also Psych concerns, suicide threats, and combatants are also cuffed for all movements. Not all cuffed, and sprayed combatants GO to SpHU either. But I'm sure you know all this!

SwingLeft aka: "Officer Anonymous"


Quote:
Originally Posted by SGT Anonymous
Only Ad/Seg and SHU inmates are handcuffed for everyday movement. Level IV Inmates are supposed to cuffed if they leave the yard but thats it.

I know that even one death is too many, but when you look at the number of inmates that are exposed to Pepper Spray vs the number of inmates that have serious medical problems/death from it you see that there is a VERY slim chance of it happening. Like I said before, I have seen literally thousands of inmates sprayed with OC in my career and there were only a few that needed medical attention after the fact. None of them died.
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Old 11-29-2004, 06:02 PM
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The main use for pepper spray is to stop an incident and/or prevent further injury. Most of the use comes during riots, multiple inmate on one inmate assaults, and mutual combat situations. So, the majority of the time it is being used to prevent injury to inmates. I have yet to see it used when there have not been multiple verbal commands to stop whatever it is they are doing and LOUD alarms going off which means all inmates are supposed to have a seat or prone completely out depending on the institution. They know that if they don't they stand a fair chance of pepper spray, baton, or other non-lethal tools being used. If we did not have pepper spray I am certain that more injuries would occur because the baton would be the only tool we would have(on the ground, so to speak) to stop whatever is happening. At some point I would have to think a fatal injury would also occur because with so much movement during an incident someone would be struck other than where the baton was aimed. The CO and CDC would then face more of the same questioning and crticism. Where are the questions and criticism for the person who made any type of force neccessary?
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  #21  
Old 11-30-2004, 01:27 AM
SGT Anonymous SGT Anonymous is offline
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Quote:
Not true, Sergeant,

All movement on 1st watch and also Psych concerns, suicide threats, and combatants are also cuffed for all movements. Not all cuffed, and sprayed combatants GO to SpHU either. But I'm sure you know all this!
Well I was speaking in general. Of course if there is a risk to staff, himself, or other inmates then he will be handcuffed. But that doesn't happen to all inmates at all times, that is a case by case basis.

And at the prisons I have worked at we only cuff up level IV inmates during movement on 1st watch.
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