"Torture chair" inmate awarded $2000

(June 11, 2004) - (Bentonville-AP) -- A Rogers man has been awarded two-thousand dollars for being held in what he called a "torture chair" in the Benton County jail in December 2001. But a higher court says the chair can be used to restrain prisoners - as long as proper policies are in place. U-S District Judge Jimm Hendren accepted the recommendations of a magistrate last year that inmate Gilbert Guerra be awarded damages for his treatment at the hands of Benton County sheriff's Captain Gene Drake and Deputy David McVay. The district court found that a chair at the jail with arm restraints was used improperly to hold Guerra for two and three hours at a time as punishment, denying him his 14th Amendment right to due process. The judge also said the chair is appropriate to protect people from violent inmates, but not as punishment. Guerra appealed the amount of the award, but the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the judge's ruling.