The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Prisons Sic Attack Dogs on Inmates, Report Finds

by Shreema Mehta

Oct. 16, 2006 – Four states authorize the use of attack dogs to intimidate resistant inmates out of prison cells, according to Human Rights Watch, though two of the states have rarely put the policy into the practice.

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The organization is calling for the states of Connecticut, Iowa, South Dakota and Utah to ban the practice, which sometimes results in prisoner injury.

Connecticut reported twenty incidents of guards using attack dogs in 2005, while Iowa reported 63 incidents from March 2005 to 2006.

Human Rights Watch found that corrections officials will sometimes let attack dogs into inmates’ cells. The dogs have been trained to charge and bite prisoners, according to the organization’s report.

"While the prisoner tries to fend off the dog, officers move in to take hold of him, apply restraints and then remove him from his cell," the report said.

In a statement it released in response to the report, the Iowa Department of Corrections said, "The K-9 program has been thoroughly reviewed and over the last 18 months the practice of using K-9’s for cell extractions has been limited to a few incidents and only to protect the safety of our officers and inmates." The Department also said the state plans to prohibit the use of attack dogs, except in "life-threatening incidents."

In most cell extractions documented by Human Rights Watch, the prisoner suffered a dog-bite injury.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Shreema Mehta is a staff journalist.

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