ASSEMBLYMEMBER CHAU INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO LIMIT THE USE OF CHEMICAL SPRAY RESTRAINTS IN JUVENILE DETENTION FACILITIES
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2010, to align California with the majority of the nation as it relates to the use of chemical agents in juvenile detention facilities. California is one of only five states that permit staff to carry OC spray, commonly known as pepper spray, on their persons.
“The use of OC spray on young people not only produces physical and mental health effects, but it also interferes with their rehabilitation, because it can have serious effects on the relationship between youth and staff,” said Assemblymember Ed Chau. “By limiting the use of chemical sprays in juvenile detention facilities, we are adopting accepted professional practices that will provide a safe and supportive environment for rehabilitation.”
The Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators conducted a national survey of correctional administrative staff in 2011 and found that only 12% of agencies surveyed authorized staff to carry chemical spray in secure facilities and only 29% of agencies authorize the use of chemical restraints at all. Further, the health impacts of chemical restraints cannot be ignored. Studies indicate that individuals with compromised respiratory systems, such as those suffering from asthma or bronchitis, may be at particular risk for respiratory arrest resulting from chemical spray exposure, and chronic exposure to chemical spray may result in chronic respiratory ailments. These risks may be exacerbated by mental illness, insufficient air circulation, and repeated exposure – all conditions that exist in juvenile facilities.
Specifically, AB 2010 would prohibit staff in juvenile detention facilities from having chemical spray in their possession. This bill would provide exceptions for staff to obtain and use chemical spray in order to suppress a riot or in situations when de-escalation tactics have failed, or are not reasonably possible. Lastly, AB 2010 would require that all situations involving the use chemical spray be documented and include information related to the reason for use, the authorization of use, decontamination procedures, and follow up visits with medical professionals.
Assemblymember Ed Chau represents the 49th Assembly District, comprised of the communities of Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Temple City and portions of Montebello, and South El Monte.