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It reads like scenes out of a graphic horror novel.

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Court declarations by expert witnesses who viewed the videos said they show prison guards tossing chemical grenades and pumping pepper spray into the cells of screaming mentally ill inmates, using pepper spray on asthmatic inmates and, in one case, blasting one mentally ill inmate with pepper spray five times within the span of a few minutes because he refused to leave his cell. That inmate was left "completely delirious," according to one expert's account filed with the court.
Is this a description of long lost videos from the Shah's dungeons? A movie adaptation of one man's vision of Dante's Hell? No, these are videos taken from a modern day California prison, and they are going to be put on the record in a court of law.
A federal court judge has decided that videos showing California prison guards dousing mentally ill prisoners with pepper spray can be shown in open court...

Federal Judge Lawrence Karlson, one of the three judges overseeing California's dragged-kicking-and-screaming efforts to comply with court ordered remedies against unconstitutional overcrowding and mistreatment of prisoners, made this decision yesterday.

What did California's corrections department have to say about the possibility of the videos being shown, before the decision had been handed down?

Corrections department spokesman Jeffrey Callison said... that if the videos are shown in open court, the state would want them to run in their entirety to provide the proper context.
Ah yes, the proper context. Context, of course, is crucial. Like having the floor of the cell awash in pepper spray.
One ((video)) shows a Corcoran State Prison inmate being sprayed repeatedly in his cell in a mental health crisis unit last year because he refused to take his psychiatric medication...

He "was not lucid or coherent enough" to follow guards' orders that he allow himself to be handcuffed as he screamed in pain from the pepper spray... according to a sworn declaration filed by Eldon Vail, an expert witness hired by the inmates' attorneys who was allowed to view the videos.... The guards then sprayed him again at close range.

By the time guards finally entered the cell, it was so slick with pepper spray that they and the inmate wound up in a pile sliding across the floor, according to Vail.

I am convinced there is literally nothing the California Prison system could do to its inmates that would incite the least care or concern among the vast majority of California's citizens. Years-long torture by solitary confinement? Got no problem with that. Juveniles stuffed into isolation cells? Discipline, that's what they need. Arbitrary isolation and denial of medical procedures? Mentally ill inmates screaming in horror? Hey, not my problem.

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The only thing I can think of that would stir the masses from their Jerry Brown-induced stupor is if prisoners were allowed to have puppies and it was revealed that guards were torturing those canines. But human beings in a system that we the people ostensibly control and in fact pay for? Crickets.

We look back on those who owned and traded slaves hundreds of years ago as morally unfit. We condemn the society that allowed it. What we don't realize is that if humankind survives another two-hundred year span, they will look back at us and wonder how we could have been so morally bankrupt and so unspeakably barbaric.

I cannot imagine what it must be like to have my face immersed in pepper spray while not being in command of my mind, just feeling mind-numbering burning, incapable of hearing or seeing. You can't either. But some human beings are not just imagining it, they are living it.

It's time for it to stop.

 

Originally posted to jpmassar on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 08:21 AM PDT.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street, California politics, SFKossacks, Progressive Policy Zone, and Mental Health Awareness.

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