NAMI BA President Calls the Use of Stun Belts In Iowa City on People with Asperger Syndrome Torture and Barbaric
As many of you know, my son Daniel is facing 55 years in jail for non-violent crimes. He never stepped foot in Iowa but based upon two voice mails and emails to an account that is not used, it appears he will get that time. He has never been violent. Today May 23rd, he was convicted of being a habitual offender even though he has Asperger Syndrome. It’s a sad day for my family, NAMI and the Autism communities.
During the trial Dr. Mills testified as a rebuttal witness because Daniel was denied a continuance to release his medical records. He said that Daniel has no history of violence. In fact people with Asperger Syndrome are more likely to be bullied. Daniel did not have intent and is not a stalker. His actions are part of having Asperger Syndrome and not a suitor stalker. His actions were flawed and ambivalent. He did not want to contact his ex-girlfriend so he chose a flawed way. He had her phone number and did not call it. He was blowing off steam. Daniel cannot connect the dots. There is a disconnect between how we feel and how he feels. Daniel made reference to an embarrassing incident in the Johnson county auditor’s office. This referred to an employee who defecated in their pants. He was given two counts of extortion for this by overzealous Johnson County prosecutors. The detective in charge of investigating my son was by his own admission no expert in stalking and he was concerned Daniel was coming to Iowa. He checked all of the homeless shelters and hotels in the area. Why he did everything, but call Joseph M. Jason at his home. He would have told him that Daniel was in his room at home and never left Illinois to go to Iowa. I would have told him that he did not make eye contact with me the whole summer I met with this Detective in December of 2012. He was ignoring me typing while my wife and I were talking to Janet Lyness and Beth Beglin who ended up using twisting information I gave them instead of coming up with an alternative to incarceration. I had a solution, but they apparently preferred to waste millions of dollars of the taxpayer’s money. Daniel needs a social setting with mental health professional where people can work with his Asperger Syndrome in Illinois. I offered that to Janet Lyness with a facility called Trinity.
I recently received a letter from Daniel that said the following:
“They had me on a shock belt so I got scared and wanted it off so I waived a jury trial.” My son is 5 feet and 10 inches and 145 pounds. In court, there were two people from the Sheriff’s office sitting next to him. My son has no history of violence despite his charges by the overzealous prosecutor and police department. This treatment is torture and barbaric and representative of the Iowa city legal system.
The threat of this stun belt has been independently confirmed.
In 1996 Amnesty International called on the United States to “establish a rigorous independent inquiry into the use of stun belts and all other types and variants of electro-shock weapons;” it now calls for the outright banning of stun belts. “The use of the stun belt — an inherently cruel and degrading device — when there are effective alternatives should be unacceptable in our society. The stun belt clearly violates international standards, including treaties to which the United States is a party,” says AI in its June 1999 report, Cruelty in Control? “The Stun Belt and other Electro-Shock equipment in Law Enforcement.”
“The stun belt should be immediately banned and the use of other electro-shock weapons such as stun guns, stun shields and tasers should be suspended pending the outcome of a rigorous, independent and impartial inquiry into the use and the effects of the equipment.”
Both the 1996 and the 1999 AI reports detail the use of the Remote Electronically Activated Control Technology (REACT) belt, made by Stun Tech, of Cleveland, Ohio, and the Remote Activated Custody Control (RACC) belt made by Nova Products of Cookville, Tennessee. The belts have been in use at least since 1993 and are now part of the federal prison system and the U.S. Marshalls’ Service. AI lists 112 local jurisdictions in thirty states and the prison facilities of twenty states as users of the belt. In eight states where the stun belt is not allowed, stun guns, stun shields and taser dart guns are in use.
The idea of cutting costs by using a few $800 belts to keep prisoners in check is appealing in an increasingly overcrowded and expensive prison system; the U.S. prison and jail population is nearing the two million mark and growing. For the present, prison authorities are limited to using the belts only during the transportation of prisoners, judicial hearings, and for chain gangs. All of these uses violate international law.
“[T]he belt inflicts a 50,000 volt shock [that] enters the prisoner’s left kidney region and [travels] along…nerve pathways. Each pulse…give[s] rise to a rapid shock … caus[ing] severe pain…and instant incapacitation.” It is designed “for [the] total psychological supremacy…of potentially troublesome prisoners.” After all, according to Stun Tech, “if you were wearing a contraption around your waist that, by the mere push of a button…could make you defecate or urinate,…what would you do?” Stun Tech warns the belt should not be used to “unlawfully threaten, coerce, harass, taunt, belittle or abuse any person,” but adds that “as long as it is not used for officer gratification or punishment, liability is non-existent.”
If these belts are used, they should be used very sparingly. At the end of the day, I suspect this will go to the Appeals Court and hope and pray a new trial is given. We are all accountable for our actions to a higher power.