The news team at WCNC out of Charlotte has been conducting an interesting investigation into the deaths of people strapped to restraint chairs while in custody. These chairs are frequently used when inmates who are violent, drugged, or mentally ill are transported. At least four people have been killed by them in the Carolinas, and at least three dozen nationwide.
It is unknown if these chair deaths are being under-reported. Some jails have stopped using them after having to settle lawsuits because of the deaths. Human rights groups have also called for these chairs to be banned.
The reason that people die in these chairs is that they’re unable to respond appropriately to medical emergencies. Sometimes the prisoners convulse in the chair and cause damage to their bodies. Excessive restraint can cause blood clots to form, leading to death when the prisoner is released. Others have choked on their vomit, or thrown themselves and the chair against walls violently.
Sometimes it’s even police action after restraint that causes the injury. One mentally ill man was sprayed with pepper spray after being restrained in a chair. There are many other stories linked in the article describing these incidents.
Psychiatrists say that restraint should only be used when all else fails, but detention officers like to use them to prevent attacks on staff and officers. However, if the injury rates continue to rise, lawsuits will continue to be filed.
Even convicted criminals and their families have the right to pursue civil cases for injuries they received while in custody. If you feel you have a case, call our law office immediately for more information.