CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Study Shows Problem With Suicides in Mass. Prisons

From An independent study of the state prison system, requested by the Department of Correction and due to be released tomorrow , has found serious shortcomings in the state's handling of inmates who are at risk of committing suicide.

The report, commissioned after a sharp increase in prisoner suicides in 2005 and 2006, concludes that prison policies and practices are contributing to the problem:

  • Guards and other staff members do not have enough training in suicide prevention.Guards fail to check frequently enough on some inmates at risk of suicide.
  • Some cells used to house suicidal inmates have not been stripped of features they could use to harm themselves.
  • Inmates under suicide watch become even more isolated because they are denied visits, showers, phone calls, and time outside their cells,
  • Ten inmates killed themselves in state prisons in 2005 and 2006.
  • Another prisoner was left brain dead by a suicide attempt.
  • Five of the 11 inmates had recently been on suicide watches, and six had documented histories of mental health problems.

Prisoner rights groups have repeatedly criticized the state prison system for failing to address the needs of inmates with mental illnesses. Lindsay M. Hayes , a national specialist in prison suicide prevention who wrote the report, said suicidal inmates are being punished instead of being helped.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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