Excerpted, via CBS4:
A controversial practice regarding the treatment of the mentally ill in Florida’s maximum security prisons has some attorneys and mental health experts raising concerns over its use.
“Here they are just gassing him. You can see they are just spraying him in the face,” said Miami attorney Leon Fresco. “I would describe it as the eighth amendment does – cruel and unusual punishment.”
According to lawyers representing mentally ill prisoners who have been incarcerated in Florida prisons, the state allegedly allows guards to spray inmates suffering from mental illness with chemical agents to “discipline them.”
“They call these inmates bugs. They say these inmates are bugs. A bug is a term they use for a crazy person. And they gas them and it’s just shocking and it’s just something we can’t allow it to continue anymore,” said Fresco who has been investigating the treatment of the mentally ill behind bars.
“If they see behavior they don’t like they gas them, just like you’d gas a bug that you don’t like,” said Fresco.
“They’re acting out because of their mental illness and as a result of that they’re being punished, pure and simple,” said Randy Berg, co-counsel for Florida Justice Institute. “This certainly by anyone’s definition, I think, is torture. This is a practice of the Florida Department of Corrections currently to gas known mentally ill inmates who are acting out by banging on their cells.”
Jerome Maxime Thomas of Lauderhill says he prays every day that his son Jeremiah, who has been diagnosed with severe mental illness, will survive his incarceration at Starke Prison and the alleged chemical gassings he has been subjected to over a period of years, despite orders from the medical staff that he was not to be gassed given his severe mental illness.
“My son has told me he should have died many times, but the Lord has kept him alive,” said Thomas, “Something must be done, because it’s going too far.”
…”It’s certainly inappropriate to use chemical agents for mentally ill people who are acting out solely because of their mental illness,” said Berg. “We should be sympathetic to their treatment because they’re going to get out. If you treat human beings like animals and literally like rats they’re going to be that way when they get released to society so it’s in our best interest to treat these people like human beings while they’re in there. …We’re making these people more and more angry, more and more mentally ill, and then releasing them directly to the street, it makes no sense.”
Sure it does. Since mental illness is a genetic defect, it’s impervious to social influence. Some people are born with broken brains, others are lucky. There is nothing one human can do to a another to initiate, worsen, or lessen the course of mental illness, it is what it is; innate and immutable. There is no logical rationale on earth to be kindly — or brutal for that matter, what happens outside is extraneous, without impact, that’s what it means to have a defective brain, and what if it doesn’t? This is how we roll now.