Magazine article Drug Topics

Women Prisoners Allege Drugging during Their Trials

Magazine article Drug Topics

Women Prisoners Allege Drugging during Their Trials

Article excerpt

In California, 44 women are pushing to have their convictions overturned, claiming that they were improperly medicated with antipsychotic drugs during their trials. Use of chemical restraints on nonviolent prisoners is prohibited by state law.

Members of Women Prisoners Convicted by Drugging, they charge that local law enforcement officials routinely use chemical restraints and that nurses and guards at many local jails routinely force thioridazine, chlorpromazine, doxepin, and similar drugs on inmates without either a prescription or a diagnosis.

In a similar case last May, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that forced administration of antipsychotic drugs to a male pretrial detainee violated the Sixth and 14th amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Many corrections officials dismiss drugging claims as self-serving. But Donald Seaver, M.D., head psychiatrist for San Francisco County jails, said he believes that antidepressants and antipsychotics are routinely administered in jails around the state. Nurses and guards, he noted, are under constant pressure to maintain strict control. Chemical restraints are an easy answer.

When Seaver came to the San Francisco County jail in 1987, he said, about one-third of inmates on tranquilizers, antidepressants, and antipsychotics did not need medication. …

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