Video from US prison shows inmate held down, pepper sprayed at close range
In what promises to be a major public relations headache for Maine's Department of Corrections, local media have released raw footage of a restrained inmate being subdued with pepper spray and then left unattended for over twenty minutes.
The story and video first appeared in this week’s Maine Sunday Telegram, and were further reported on by the Portland Press Herald, with a shorter clip accompanied by some two hours of additional video. The raw footage depicts Windham Correctional Center inmate Paul Schlosser being bound to a restraint chair, flanked by five prison officials - three of them in riot gear - protesting that guards “watch his arm,” and subsequently being pepper sprayed in the face at close range by Captain Shawn Welch.
It is unclear how footage of the June 2012 event found its way
into the hands of Maine’s media, though the state’s Department of
Corrections has already assigned an investigator to locate the
source of the leak.
Schlosser was reported to have received treatment for a self-inflicted wound to his arm and was on multiple medications for bipolar disorder and depression prior to the incident.
Captain Welch was initially fired over his actions by Scott
Burnheimer, superintendent of the medium-minimum security facility
- a decision that was overturned by Maine’s corrections
commissioner, who reduced the penalty to a 30-day
Meanwhile, Judy Garvey, a spokesperson for the state’s Prisoner
Advocacy Coalition, criticized the department’s focus on the source
of the leak instead of concentrating its resources on preventing
similar incidents from occurring in the future. "Trying to find
out how the information got into the hands of a reporter shows a
reluctance to have transparency. It reeks of government
heavy-handedness in oversight,” she told the Press
Garvey further recommended that the Department of Corrections look to create an advocacy group for prisoners’ treatment.