Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pepper Spray... Doesn't Sound Too Bad to Me

In a blog titled "Open Minded Politics," the author writes:

Increased use of Pepper Spray in Youth Commission
Why is it we use violence to teach people to not be violent? To teach my daughter to be gentle and loving that is what I model to her. The Texas Youth Commission apparently disagrees. Teenagers who are incarcerated are now being pepper-sprayed more than ever before. This year there has been 1200 reports of teens being sprayed compared with last years 196. Two youth advocacy groups sued the agency and they are currently trying to come to an agreement on, how much is to much? Barry Krisberg is quoted saying," You're only going to get angrier, more alienated youths when you do this." I could not agree more! We need to teach these teens how to respond to a stressful situation calmly and peacefully. You can create boundaries and respect when that is what you give to them. Reacting to them in anger only reinforces that is how you are supposed to react. It is said they use the pepper spray on teenagers on suicide watch. They are clearly not in a good space why torture them more? It is like kicking them when they are down. Physical restraints were bringing more injuries to the youth and staff members, the use of the pepper spray has reduced these injuries. We are trading one form of violence for another. These kids have to be handled respectively to learn how to be respectful. Setting boundaries and rules can be done peacefully.We need to take a look at our egos in this situation. How much ego is involved when the decision is made to pepper spray? Guiding these teens toward a life of balance and healthy living should be our focus. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/11/20/1120pepper.html


Although the author makes several good points, I do not completely agree with it. I do think that officers in correctional facilities, and those on the street, should use pepper spray. Most people that are in correctional facilities are in there for a reason. Not all may be dangerous, but when there are several inmates fighting and causing trouble, I think that pepper spray is necessary to get them under control. Think about it... When 5 grown men are fighting, you are not going to be able to just say, "Hey guys, let's stop fighting now. You are better than that." You are going to have to show them that you are in charge and that they cannot do this or they will be punished. Also, I think that pepperspray is a great alternative to tasers and guns.
I do think that the Texas Youth Commission is pepper spraying too much though. The number of sprayings went up drastically in just one year. But, in order to consider the number of sprayings, you also need to consider the number of fights and other behavior that is not allowed. I have always believed that when you do something wrong and you get punished, it will make you think of what will happen the next time you are going to do something wrong. For example, if a child breaks a bunch of dishes on purpose and all they get is a tiny slap on the wrist, they are going to think that they can do a little bit worse of things and not get in trouble for it or even do worse things and barely get in trouble for it.
The author said that correctional officers use pepper spray on suicidal inmates. I do not think that they should be allowed to do that. When a person is contemplating suicide, any little thing can push them over the edge.
When something occurs in a correctional facility, the officer should stop and think if using pepper spray would be the right way to correct the situation. (But when you think about it, pepper spray is the least violent tool that the officers have.)

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