On September 3, 2008, a Jacksonville judge will hear arguments about the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and other chemicals on mentally ill inmates in Florida prisons. The lawyers representing the inmates argue that it is cruel and unusual punishment to use chemicals on these inmates.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 56% of state prisoners, and 64% of local jail inmates have mental illness symptoms. Many of these inmates are restricted to solitary confinement for long periods of time without the benefit of their medication. The inmates, in turn, decompensate. This leads to more “acting out” and more “breaking of the rules”. These mentally ill inmates are in a prison within a prison.