Saginaw Co. officials purchase 'stun vest' - WNEM TV 5

Saginaw Co. officials purchase 'stun vest'

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SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A local sheriff's department makes a purchase that some may find shocking. Saginaw County's new stun vest will be worn by dangerous defendants in the court room, and if they become violent, it will stop them in their tracks.

In an effort to reduce those chances in the court room, or while being transported, the department has purchased two shock devices. One is a vest, the other is a belt.

"This is in full contact at all time, at all time it's just not active. If the inmate misbehaves or attacks it can be immediately deployed. There is no aiming and it's immediate incapacitation," says Robert Karl, Saginaw County Under sheriff.

The vest is worn under the inmates clothes. When activated, it delivers 50,000 to 75,000 volts of electricity to four different areas on the inmates back.

It can also be activated numerous times if needed. The shock vest is a discreet deterrent for some of the more violent offenders. 

Opponents say the device treats defendants like animals and ignores the presumption of innocence.

Criminal defense attorney James Piazza thinks forcing an inmate to wear the shock vest or shock belt is going to far.

"They have multiple police officers in the courtroom. There's no need for this. There's no need to treat my clients or anybody's clients like a dog," says Piazza. "The client has more to worry about than the vest, because we're going through a trial and they're presumed to be innocent."

But the Under sheriff says these devices are for everyone's protection.

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