Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons

Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons

Human Rights Watch. Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons. Report. May 2015.

Across the United States, staff working in jails and prisons have used unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force on incarcerated people with intellectual disabilities and mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The violence can traumatize already vulnerable people, aggravating their symptoms and making future mental health treatment more difficult. In some cases, including several documented in this report, the use of force has caused or contributed to prisoners’ deaths. This report details this misconduct and abuse of force and solitary confinement, and outlines recommendations for best practices when interacting with incarcerated people with disabilities and mental illness.

Click here to view the report.

Keywords: vulnerable populations, disparities, disparity, torture, mental illness, mental health