Prison Guards Now Equipped With Tasers - WLNS TV 6 Lansing - Jackson | Your Local News Leader

Prison Guards Now Equipped With Tasers

Posted: Updated: March 2, 2012 04:53 AM EST
Chivon Kloepfer Chivon Kloepfer

They're dangerous, they're effective and they're spreading into Michigan prisons.

We're talking about tasers.

The weapon isn't being used by prisoners, it's being used by guards. The Department of Corrections is now using tasers to keep the peace.

Back in December the DOC started an experiment with tasers. They trained officers in 5 prisons around the state on how to use them, and in what situations.

Officials say the results so far have been very, very promising.

Typically officers would need to physically try and break fights up, but with tasers they can stop dangerous situations in seconds. 

"Before we had these tasers to break up an altercation, or assault involved, our corrections officers getting involved in that, they had to get right in there, pull inmates apart and many times they would get injured, hurt, sometimes very seriously," said Russ Marlan, DOC spokesperson.

Marlan says even the threat of using a taser is enough to stop a fight or prevent it from starting in the first place. Since introducing them, the number of fights has gone down and the number of worker compensation claims has also dropped.

"[It's] like a total body cramp. Everything in your body locks up, you have no muscle control you just lock up and fall," said Marlan. 

It's painful - but believe it or not - the prisoners themselves don't seem to mind the idea.

"What we're hearing from the prisoners is they kind of are fine with this as well because most of these issues are prisoner on prisoner assaults and so it stops these assaults earlier and I think the prisoners recognize that," said Marlan.

They also recognize that a 5 second shock - in the long run - is much less dangerous than getting tackled and detained by several guards.

"Anytime you go hands on with somebody, the likelihood for injury is very much increased as opposed to this type of device where your hands don't go on them until they're under control," said Brent Travelbee, Emergency Manager Coordinator.

So far there haven't been any health issues since the DOC started using the tasers. And the experiment has been so successful they're now planning to use them in every prison in the state, which will cost about $800,000.

In the long run the DOC says they'll actually be saving a lot more money because of fewer injuries.

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