Lealon Muldrow, an Atlanta inmate, described a 1997 incident in which he was tied down from July 1 through July 6. "I did not receive a sheet to cover myself until the second day," he says. "For the first three days, I was not allowed out of the four-point restraints for any reason. I was forced to urinate and defecate on myself during that time, and was not allowed to clean myself in any way, take a shower, or brush my teeth. On the fourth through sixth days I was allowed up to use the toilet beside the bed only about once per day. On the fifth day I was allowed up for about 20 minutes to take a shower and to clean my cell. I was kept in handcuffs and leg shackles while I did this, and then I was returned to four-point restraints." He claims to have been checked only sporadically by medical personnel.

The Southern Center says this kind of treatment violates recommendations established in the wake of a 1998 investigative series by The Hartford Courant. The paper detailed the misuse of restraints that led to the deaths of 142 mentally ill or retarded people. Improper restraints can cause fatal blood clots or suffocation. Guidelines now call for four-point to be closely supervised by a doctor and used for no more than two hours at a single stretch and eight hours overall.

On its Web site, the Bureau of Prisons states that "qualified health professionals" must be consulted when four-point is used, but gives wardens the authority to restrain an inmate when it's "the only means available to obtain and maintain control." The rules go on to stipulate: "Staff shall check the inmate at least every 15 minutes, both to ensure that the restraints are not hampering circulation and for the general welfare of the inmate. When the inmate is restrained to a bed, staff shall periodically rotate the inmate's position to avoid soreness or stiffness."

The road to disaster
photo: J.K. Condyles
The road to disaster

What appears to be widespread use of four-point restraints in federal prisons has received little attention from members of Congress. Stephen Bright, head of the Southern Center, wrote Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Orrin Hatch last month, seeking an inquiry into the practice and hearings. The center subsequently learned Hatch had no intention of holding hearings. Ranking minority member Patrick Leahy wants the bureau to give him a report on the use of four-point restraints. The House Judiciary Committee has done nothing.

British Woman Fights for Pet Sheep
Wolves at the Door

Although it has largely dropped out of stateside news, the slaughter of healthy animals in Britain continues unabated. Last Thursday, according to the London Sunday Times, some 79,000 livestock were killed, more than twice the "daily average of 33,000 two months ago at the peak of the epidemic."

When they came for her sheep on May 4, Carolyn Hoffe wouldn't let the beasts go quietly. The five pets—Matthew, Maggie, Melissa, Emily, and Eva—were condemned by authorities because they lived one meter inside a three-kilometer cull zone for foot-and-mouth disease in northern England. According to a report in the London Telegraph, Hoffe brought the beloved critters inside her house, bolting the door and blocking it with a wardrobe.

As police beat on the door, Hoffe screamed, "Please spare them!" The terrified sheep raced around the room, looking for an escape. After the killers threatened to beat down the door, Carolyn opened it, looked one vet straight in the eye, and spat: "You are a traitor to your profession."

The sheep were put down by lethal injection. "What happened to my sheep was evil," Hoffe told the paper. "This was the slaughter of the innocents. This was officialdom gone crazy."

Additional reporting: Rouven Gueissaz and Adam Gray

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