Federal judge orders Michigan prison to end use of non-medical restraints

[JURIST] A federal judge ruled Monday that officials at the Southern Michigan Correctional Facility [official website] must stop using non-medical restraints on prisoners because the "practice constitutes torture and violates the Eighth Amendment." Judge Richard Enslen of the US District Court for the Western District of Michigan issued the opinion [PDF text] in the case of Timothy Souders, a mentally ill detainee who died Aug. 6 after spending four days nude and restrained in an isolated cell. The judge said the death was "attributable to delays or malfeasance in the provision of mental health care." Specifically, Judge Enslen ordered [PDF text] that the prison "shall immediately cease and desist from the practice of using any form of punitive mechanical restraints... [and] shall timely develop practices, protocols and policies to enforce this limitation."

According to testimony [Grand Rapids Press report] at trial in October, the use of the restraints on Souders met the American Medical Association's definition of torture. AP has more.

 

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