SUIT: Mentally Ill Inmate Often Pepper Sprayed

RALEIGH (AP) - Lawyers for an inmate who suffers from a serious mental illness say he was abused at North Carolina's Central Prison by guards who repeatedly doused him with pepper spray while locked in a tiny cell.

Diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, inmate Jerry C. Williams has spent much of his 57 years in state psychiatric hospitals and prisons. His case, filed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, raises more questions about the treatment of inmates in Unit One, a special cell block where those who violate prison rules are held in solitary confinement.

Williams' lawyers claim his treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment under the U.S. Constitution. It also violates the prison's own policies and procedures for dealing with inmates with chronic mental illness, they say.


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