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A Message from Interim Director Booth — January 31, 2017

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SUICIDE PREVENTION UPDATE

In continuation of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections’ ongoing efforts to improve its suicide prevention policies and procedures in its facilities, the Department of Corrections expects to implement the following medical and operational protocols within ninety (90) days.

The following protocols are expected to remain in effect, except for exigent circumstances or legitimate penological reasons, while suicidal inmates are housed in safe cells where the inmates are monitored for their safety and security.  

There will be an individualized determination on what restrictions will be in place while an inmate is on suicide watch and suicide precaution, based on the acuity of risk, as determined by the judgment of a mental health clinician, and documented in the medical record and on a form posted on the cell door.  If consistent with the safety of the inmate, he or she may have:

Out of Cell Time: Inmates placed in a safe cell will be allowed 30 minutes out of cell time daily.

Telephone Calls: Inmates not under disciplinary restrictions may have phone calls on a daily basis while in a safe cell.

Video Visitation: Inmates not under disciplinary restrictions may have previously scheduled video visitation appointments.

Family Visits: Inmates not under disciplinary restrictions may have previously scheduled family visits.

Access to Running Water: Inmates shall have access to running water.  Restrictions may be imposed if an inmate has made previous attempts to flood his/her cell or attempted to inflict self-harm by drowning.

Access to Safe Mattresses and Blankets: DOC will provide inmates with a safety mattress and a safety blanket.

Access to Safe Eating Utensils: In order to increase the variety of an inmate's diet and food items offered, safe eating utensils will be provided in safe cells.

Unrestricted View from the Cell: Inmates placed in safe cells will have an unrestricted
view from the cell door unless they have a history of sexual exposure. Detachable curtains are placed on the lower half of the outside of the safe cell window and are drawn when there is a history of sexual exposure.

Personal Hygiene: Inmates may have access to a shower.

Clothing: Inmates may be provided a safety smock, socks and shoes.

Access to Personal Property: Inmates may have access to personal property such as: books, paper, pens, pencils, magazines, etc.

Lighting: Safe cells will be equipped with dimmer switches. Lights will be dimmed no less than 40% for at least eight (8) hours per night absent an individualized determination documented by medical personnel that they cannot be dimmed for the safety of the inmate.