Feds Still Forcing Meds on Loughner, Lawyer Claims

     (CN) – Lawyers for Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner say that federal prison officials resumed forcibly medicating him less than a week after the 9th Circuit ordered them to stop.
     Attorney Judy Clarke filed an emergency motion with the San Francisco-based appeals court, asking the court to determine if the Bureau of Prisons has violated an injunction. She also wants the court to order prison officials to release daily updates and records on the suspect’s treatment.
     Loughner is being held at the Medical Center for Federal Prisons in Springfield, Mo., where he is undergoing treatment after a federal judge declared him incompetent to stand trial for a January shooting rampage that killed six people and injured 13, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
     On July 12, the 9th Circuit enjoined the Bureau of Prisons from forcibly medicating Loughner with psychotropic drugs pending his appeal, while allowing officials to use “less intrusive” medications such as tranquilizers in the event that he became a danger.
     But Clarke says that officials resumed medicating Loughner with low doses of the antipsychtoic drug Risperidone less than a week later, claiming he was suicidal and dangerous. Loughner is currently on suicide watch, according to the motion.
     “The records received to date indicate that the prison has directly contravened this court’s injunction less than a week after it was entered, Clarke wrote. “Its actions under these circumstances cause concern as to whether further action is warranted by this court
     to effectuate its injunction. The language of the court’s injunctive order is clear: it prohibited the forced administration of psychotropic drugs absent further court order, and it expressly laid out the means to protect the safety of Mr. Loughner and others, including the use of tranquilizers, that were not covered by the injunction. The prison did not abide by the order’s plain language.”
     Clarke argues that the amount of Risperidone being given to Loughner 1 mg, twice daily is not an appropriate dosage for an emergency situation. Rather, it is “exactly what the prison had prescribed Mr. Loughner when it embarked on its previous course of long-term treatment,” she wrote.
     “There is no doubt that Mr. Loughner suffers from a serious and debilitating mental illness, and proper precautions must be taken to assure his safety and the safety of others during his detention,” Clarke wrote. “But the timing of the BOP’s actions through the course of this litigation, the course of treatment it has chosen to address the current purported emergency, and its express reasons for rejecting less intrusive means of doing so, suggest a willful disregard for both the courts’ authority to oversee the criminal process and Mr. Loughner’s constitutional right to be free from forcible medication with powerful mind-altering drugs.”
     The Jan. 8 shooting spree that Loughner is accused of committing resulted in the deaths of six people, including a 9-year-old girl, U.S. District Judge John Roll and Giffords’ aide Gabriel Zimmerman.

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