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The Right of the Use of Deadly Force Against Prison Escapees

Two convicted murderers who escaped from a maximum security prison in New York and who were recently found by authorities has shed light on the issue of deadly force that can be used by an officer. One of the two escapees was shot dead while being pursued on foot by officers, while the other escapee was shot and captured days later. The question that arises is: do law officials have the right to use deadly force against escapees?

Standards of the American Bar Association on Treatment of Prisoners

The American Bar Association, an organization that established the criminal justice standards on the treatment of prisoners, wrote into their requirements that deadly force would only be permitted to prevent an escape by a prisoner when he or she was about to leave the enclosed area of the prison without authorization. Before deadly force can be used (deadly force is defined in terms to always include the use of firearms), police officials must first shout a warning and attempt to stop the escapee through other methods, and only then are officials permitted to shoot.

Florida’s “Deadly Force” Standards

The Florida legislation requires less than the American Bar Association; according to its statute on the proper use of force to prevent the escape of an arrested person, an officer is able to use any force that he or she believes is reasonably necessary to prevent the escape of the arrested person. Deadly force is permitted in the context of a correctional officer using deadly force to prevent the escape of a prisoner without a warning shout or other indication of the intent to use deadly force.

Amnesty International’s Report: U.S. is Below International Standards

These standards are only a few that are under review by Amnesty International USA, which recently published a report that stated that all 50 states in the United States fail to satisfy the international standards for law enforcement officials and deadly force established by the United Nations. The UN standards require that deadly force should be used in a finite set of circumstances where deadly force is a last resort, whereas the wide range of consensus among U.S. states is the application of deadly force in a broad set of circumstances.

Florida and Others are Well Below Constitutional Requirements, Report Says

According to the article published by Mother Jones, there are thirteen states, including Florida, that do not even come close to satisfying the lowest standards outlined by the U.S. Constitution on the use of deadly force by police officers. Even worse, not a single state in the Union requires the use of deadly force as a last resort nor are there state laws that limit deadly force to circumstances where there is a threat to life or serious injury to the officer. In addition, the Amnesty report cites to the fact that the “use of deadly force” does not include any accountability requirements, procedures or standards that require the reporting of the use of force or firearms by police officers.

The lack of statutes protecting citizens from the use of lethal force by police officers has exacerbated the current situation found in the United States. Though prisoners have limited rights as a condition of their status as prisoners, the use of lethal force should be restrained, along with the restraint of force used against other citizens and persons.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a criminal offense, reach out to a legal professional. It is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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