Use of body-worn electric shock in US State prisons

We wrote to all US state-level correctional departments asking for information about their policy on body-worn electric shock equipment. Eighteen of the fifty-one state correctional departments possess body-worn electric shock devices, such as stun cuffs and stun belts. Twenty-nine of the departments say that they do not possess these devices. Most of the departments that do possess these devices say that they are deployed, but are rarely, if ever, activated. Three States did not supply information citing confidentiality. Tennessee denied the information request.

The wearing of body-worn electric shock devices is inherently degrading to the dignity of the person. Activation of such devices results in the infliction of severe pain which constitutes unwarranted and disproportionate force amounting to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Even when such devices are worn but not activated, they constitute ill-treatment, maintaining the wearer in constant fear of instant pain for as long as they are worn. They do not meet a legitimate law enforcement objective that cannot be effectively accomplished with safer and less abusive alternatives. States should take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent the use of body-worn electric shock devices, remove and destroy them at the earliest practicable time, and replace them with humane restraints. To view the infographic, click here.