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CDC Issues New Shooting Policy

In the March, 1995, issue of PLN we reported that the FBI was investigating the California Department of Corrections' (CDC) policy of shooting prisoners. That policy had lead to CDC guards shooting and killing at least 27 prisoners between 1989 and 1994, compared to eight in the other 49 states and federal prison system. In January, federal judge Thelton Henderson ruled in Madrid v. Gomez that excessive force was routinely and excessively applied against prisoners, and violated the eighth amendment. [An upcoming issue of PLN will report on the ruling.]

On January 20, 1995, the CDC issued emergency regulations prohibiting guards from shooting prisoners to break up fistfights. Until now, guards with high-powered rifles had routinely shot prisoners engaged in fistfights. Armed guards are posted within CDC prison security perimeters, even in the housing units.

As part of the changes in the shooting policy the CDC is issuing non lethal weapons to guards, including pepper gas, to provide an alternative to shooting and killing prisoners in fist fights and other minor altercations.

Source: New York Times, 1/21/95

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