On June 30 Long Beach Municipal Court Judge Joan Comparet-Cassini ordered a bailiff to send 50,000 volts of electricity through a bound defendant because he was talking too much.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California joins today's coalition of national and international human rights activists who demand that this inhuman practice be ended, once and for all. We demand that the Los Angeles County Superior and Municipal Courts ban these electro-shock belts which are nothing more than modern-day versions of Medieval torture devices. They have no place in our current criminal justice system.
There are other obvious and tested solutions. Defendants or others who are disruptive may be removed from the courtroom and even required to view proceedings by video.
Under the VIII Amendment to our nation's constitution we are forbidden to inflict "cruel and unusual punishment. . ." This macabre device is cruel and unusual and converts our courtrooms into modern day torture chambers.
To inflict a 50,000-volt shock to a defendant for interrupting a judge is as outrageous as it is uncivilized. The setting here is an American courtroom, not a sadistic psychology experiment. To allow this type of punishment to continue will damage us as a society, and make the Bill of Rights nothing more than an old piece of paper under glass with no substance. That cannot be allowed to happen.
Unless we receive an assurance from the court within a reasonable period of time that such punishment will be banned from our courtrooms, the ACLU is prepared to go forward in court to stop this barbaric practice.