Lawsuit Targets Youth Commission's Use of Pepper Spray

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AUSTIN (AP) - Two advocacy groups are asking a court to stop the Texas Youth Commission from allowing the use of pepper spray to subdue juvenile prisoners before other forms of restraint.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of three 15-year-old incarcerated youths with mental disabilities.

The lawsuit claims one is a boy who has been sprayed three times and suffered skin burns for "self-injurious behavior." The other two are a boy who has been sprayed and a girl who has been threatened with pepper spray.

TYC officials last month issued a directive allowing the use of pepper spray to subdue unruly prisoners before other forceful restraints. They argued it would reduce injuries to staff and inmates and lower workers' compensation claims.

Pepper spray had previously been limited to a last resort, after physical restraints. It was not allowed on children with mental and emotional impairments or others with medical issues.