Attorneys for two juvenile advocacy groups have reached a court-directed compromise with the Texas Youth Commission in a dispute over the appropriate policy for using pepper spray to control unruly inmates, reports the Dallas Morning News. The agency clarified its longstanding “use of force” policy in ways that make pepper spray more of a last-resort option. That, advocates say, will eliminate a recent spike in its usage. Agency officials said the change would reduce the number of injuries to staff members and inmates in situations where physical restraint is typically used.
The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, in a new report, said a review of pepper spray research revealed significant health dangers to youths with respiratory problems or mental health disorders. The policy shift could be a temporary one. After the lawsuit was filed, the youth agency began the process of expanding pepper spray use through a new rule. A public hearing on the new rule is scheduled for Monday in Austin.