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<nettime> Washington sniper belt-zapped
Will Meister on Fri, 5 Sep 2003 18:04:07 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Washington sniper belt-zapped

The report below appeared in the Sept 6 2003 paper edition of 'The Week', a
UK international news digest. It is based on a report by Jonathan Turley
which appeared in the Washington Post, but in fact expands the scope of
that report considerably into a short general discussion of the use of stun
belts in American gaols. Quite rightly: I had no idea that these repulsive
devices were so widespread.

The Week's version:


Last month, when the man accused of being the sniper who terrorised
Washington was told to take an X-ray, he refused to do so. John Allen
Muhammad rightly pointed out that the request had not been ordered by a
court or discussed with his attorney. Incensed by his refusal, the prison
authorities reacted in a way that was literally 'shocking". They activated
the stun belt they had put round Muhammad and sent 50,000 volts of
electricity through his body. The stun belt is one of the US correctional
system's most unpleasant innovations, says Jonathan Turley. The battery
operated device fits round a prisoner's waist and allows a guard armed with
a remote control to send an eight-second surge through a prisoner, causing
immediate loss of muscular control. It takes up to 45 minutes to recover
and can cause people to defecate or urinate on themselves. Amnesty
International condemns the belts as "torture devices", yet they are used in
30 state prisons and all federal trial courts. Nor is their use restricted,
as it should be, to extreme circumstances. Recently a judge ordered a
deputy to shock a defendant just because he had repeatedly interrupted her.
This is unacceptable. "Congress should insist on new guidelines, if not a
ban, on the use of these devices."

The Turley / Washington Post original:


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