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Managing Use of Restraints Liability

NCJ Number
American Jails Volume: 12 Issue: 3 Dated: July/August 1998 Pages: 29-34
F J Postill; J R Rowan
Date Published
6 pages
This article examines the improper use of restraints by police and corrections officers.
Restraints are the most common tools that police and corrections officers use in arrests, securing persons for transport, or restraining disorderly prisoners. Training manuals on the proper use of restraints stress safety for officers as well as prisoners or suspects. However, 1992 research concluded that prisoners were being restrained to death. This article reviews several major civil lawsuits involving the improper use of restraints, as well as a study of 384 individual incidents regarding the use of restraints in a jail setting. The most common citizenþs complaint involved handcuffs being applied too tightly, but complaints also involved leg cuffs, belly chains, the þhog-tieþ technique, and the restraint chair. The article includes brief quotations from published legal opinions about restraint use and specific procedures when restraining a prisoner within a cell. In the cases summarized, restraints were used for punishment rather than for any legitimate police or penological purposes. In order to avoid restraint liability litigation, administrators should establish restraint policies that will withstand court and citizen review.


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