The Washington, D.C. jail is implementing a number of strategies in response to several suicides that took place in the past year. For example, when officials are informed that an upcoming visit or sentencing may bring upsetting news for an inmate, the inmate is automatically sent for a follow-up mental health evaluation. A recently issued report on the jail by Lindsay M. Hayes, a national expert on jail suicide prevention, says that there must be a change in the culture among the officers and health workers from “seemingly punitive” to safety-focused. Most significant is increasing the safety of inmates at elevated risk for suicide by checking on them at least every 10 minutes instead of every 15 minutes or less frequently. Hayes also recommended that a large number of other inmates should be in a “step-down” mental health ward inside the jail where they could attend group therapy and behavioral modification. A task force has been set up to study this idea, recognizing that it could require significant additional resources.
Population of focus: Incarcerated individuals
Author: Lindsay M. Hayes