Stop Pepper Spraying Mentally Ill Inmates


Target: US District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton

Goal: Praise California for outlawing the use of pepper spray on inmates with mental illnesses

Videos have recently surfaced showing prison guards ruthlessly soaking mentally ill inmates with pepper spray then physically forcing them out of their cells. These shocking videos caused a public outcry which led to a lawsuit. Soon after, US District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton ruled that, in this case, the prison system had infringed on the constitutional rights of prisoners. This judge deserves to be lauded for his humane ruling to no longer allow pepper spray to be used indiscriminately.

The prison system looked at pepper spray as harmless, but pepper spray can cause serious damage and must be avoided. Pepper spray can cause swelling of the eyes, nose and throat, nasal and sinus discharge, hyperventilation, increase in blood pressure, and, of course, painful burning in the skin and eyes. These are just some of the potential effects of pepper spray.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, six out of ten inmates have some sort of psychiatric disorder. This means that over half of the prisoners in California could have been subjected to this brutal treatment. Many of these inmates have trouble following orders because of their mental illness. California’s new law disallows the use of pepper spray on these inmates and states that they must use verbal warnings instead of physical abuse.

As more and more stories of police brutality continue to surface, it is promising to know that some are acting to stop the unnecessary violence. Sign the petition to thank Judge Lawrence K. Karlton for taking a stand against this abuse.


Dear Judge Lawrence K. Karlton,

I commend you on your recent ruling regarding the unlawful use of pepper spray on mentally ill inmates in California prisons. The incriminating videos make it clear that this horridly inhumane practice should cease at soon as possible.

With six out of ten inmates having a psychiatric illness, this ruthless treatment was undoubtedly overstepping the boundaries of the prisoners’ constitutional rights. Pepper spray can cause serious harm to the eyes, nose, and throat, as well as hyperventilation and an increase in blood pressure.

Thank you for your humane ruling and for protecting the rights of the prisoners in the state of California.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Stacy Zaretsky via Creative Commons

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