Lawsuit: Pepper spraying inmate with schizophrenia cruel

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FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) – 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 of 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.

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