Imagine you respond to an Officer assistance call and you find an inmate bleeding from his scrotum. As you the supervisor evaluate the situation you are informed the inmate used a toenail to cut then rip open his scrotum. The inmate is sent to the hospital and then returns. These types of situations are plaguing Jails and Correctional Facilities across the nation. Inmates with mental health disorders are turning up more and more frequently in local jails. How to handle them is becoming more and more difficult due to more extreme behavior and increased risk of civil liability. The common treatment is what is know as the restraint chair, but extended use of this device can bring about medical conditions that may not be able to be detected until it is to late. The Kent County Sheriff’s Office uses this device along with several others to assist us in our mission of maintaining safety and security of our facility and the safety of the inmates in our custody.
A second option KCCF utilizes is the restraint bed. This option is a bed designed by the humane restraint company. It comes with adjusted soft restraints that allow for inmate movement on the bad but can adjust to limit the movement so an inmate can not reach parts of his body that they may wish to harm. If an inmate were to go into this bed 15 minutes checks are completed by Deputies and 2-hour checks are completed by supervisory staff. At those 2 hour checks a nurse evaluates the inmate to ensure they are medically OK. Another task at the 2-hour check is the inmate is given the option of getting up and moving around and utilizing the toilet. These checks are documented in our Jail Management System and attached to an incident report that is generated and reviewed. Decisions to utilize this piece of equipment is not taken lightly and the inmate has had to exhibit self-injurious behavior for extended periods of time prior to being placed in the bed. The need for the placement is then evaluated daily by Jail Administration, Medical, and Mental health.
Another option we have at our disposal is the use of the Humane Restraint Belt system. These belts are designed to restrict an inmate’s movement of their arms and hands. These belts can be adjusted to limit the mobility of an inmate arms. An example of the use of these would be if an inmate continuously tries to rip open a wound on his of her arms. These belts can be applied and adjusted so the inmate can not reach their arm and hand across their body to access the wound site. We have had great success in modifying inmate behavior with this piece of equipment. Like the restraint bed above the inmate is check on every 15 minutes by Deputies and every 2-hours by a Supervisor and Medical. Along with the greatly increased mobility this option provides it lessens the likely hood of an inmate experiencing other medical issues that are associated with being sedentary for extended periods of time.
Both above listed pieces of equipment can be used with the Humane restraint gloves or mittens. They are constructed out of leather and can be attached to the restraint systems listed above. These mittens are placed over an inmate’s hands. They do not allow an inmate to pick or pull at any restraints or body parts. The hands are placed in the mittens while they are flat and stay that way the entire time, they are in them. They can be used to effectively stop self-injurious behavior. When used in conjunction with the above pieces of equipment inmates can not harm themselves as they wish they could.
These pieces of equipment listed above may seem to be extreme and inhumane, and they may be. However, as inmate’s behavior seems to be becoming more extreme, they are necessary pieces of equipment for many jails and correctional facilities to have access to. The mission of a Correctional Agency is to ensure the safety of the public, as well as the inmates in its care. Some inmates may not wish to be cared for or saved from themselves due to severe mental health issues. However, the equipment listed above can help work through those thoughts of harm until the mental health systems can determine appropriate treatment, medication and placement for them outside the walls of a Jail or prison.