Jail allegedly used drugs, shocks to control inmates

The story  of a year-long investigation by Ruth Hopkins of the Wits Justice Project is hard. It is, in fact, downright ugly. And to anyone at all familiar with human history, the allegations that prisoners were controlled by forced drug injections and electrical shocks are a must-read, if only because there’s truth in the motto: the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Excerpt from the story in Dispatches:

A South African prison, run by the beleaguered multinational private security company G4S, allegedly forcibly injected inmates with antipsychotic medication and used electroshocks to subdue and control prisoners.

Prisoners, warders and health care workers said that involuntary medication was regularly practised at the Mangaung Correctional Centre near Bloemfontein. The company, G4S, denies any acts of assault or torture.

The allegations are according to at least 35 sources – prisoners as well as security guards, prison and health officials – and based on medical records seen by reliable sources, legal documents and video footage shot inside the prison.

A 12-month-long investigation into the prison has uncovered video footage shot inside the prison hospital that shows prisoners being given medication against their will, as well as the use of electroshocks and assaults on prisoners.

The medication causes memory loss, muscle rigidity and other serious, potentially life-threatening side effects, and by law is only meant to be used under strictly controlled circumstances. But these drugs have been used at the prison up to five times a week, sometimes on inmates who show no sign of being psychotic.

Letters from prisoners tipped off the Wits Justice Project about conditions at Mangaung prison …

Log in to read Hopkins’ story, Private prison operator accused of using electric shocks and drugs, available to monthly subscribers or with a $1 day pass to Facts and Opinions.