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Health News Florida

Lawsuit: Pepper Spraying Inmate With Schizophrenia Cruel

Prison corridor with inmates in distance
Associated Press

In 2008, Charlotte County Jail guards doused Stephen McNeeley, who has schizophrenia, with three cans of pepper spray, strapped him into a restraint chair and left him burning for more than three hours.

Whether they violated the Eight Amendment, which protects against cruel and unusual punishment, is at the heart at a trial starting Thursday in federal court in Fort Myers, reports The Naples Daily News.

The state of Florida says it is - the Department of Corrections prohibits such treatment of prisoners with mental illness - as does the federal government.

But a loophole allows the state's 67 county sheriffs to make their own decisions about using chemical agents to subdue inmates with mental illness. The suit aims to change that.