The OC Register recently chronicled the role that excessive force plays in Orange County and Southern California jails. The issue mostly relates to how jailers hold the inmates.
The technique is called “chicken winging.” It’s slang that refers to a hold in which the prisoner’s arms are held behind his back and pushed up towards the shoulders. This method can cause severe pain, sprain ligaments, and even break bones.
For example, take OC Deputy Sheriff Wesley Dean. During a sworn deposition, Dean admitted to snapping a drunk driver’s humerus bone while holding him in a similar position. In this case, he also intentionally stomped on the man’s foot.
Is this excessive violence allowed? Decidedly, no!
Sanctioned Holding vs. Illegal Holding
Prison workers and officers are taught an approved holding technique. They also use “compliance holds” when things get rough. Just as it sounds, these holds make prisoners comply, usually when moving them to a designated area such as a jail cell. However, they are not supposed to cause lasting damage.
According to law enforcement, these holds are not to be used to intimidate, harass, or provoke.
When they are, it can land officers or jailers in troubled waters. Just recently, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California published reports on Orange County jails and “unhealthy conditions,” which include unsanctioned holding. The ACLU reported that excessive force is being used, even when it is not necessary.
Protecting the Rights of Prisoners
Being held in a jail does NOT automatically make someone guilty. Many inmates are awaiting trial, or serving a minor correctional sentence. They do not deserve aggressive manhandling, which should only be reserved for serious threats to law enforcement—not used as punishment.
Of course, law enforcement may always claim self-defense or that the use of force was warranted. That’s where a defense attorney comes in. An attorney can take depositions (like the one that netted Deputy Dean), subpoena for evidence like videotapes, and most importantly, keep tabs on his client to ensure the client is safe and sound.
These cases can be complicated and require an experienced criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we have succeeded in helping many of our clients. If you were hurt while resisting arrest, or have been the victim of police misconduct, call us toll-free at (888) 478-8999.