Ways to Reduce Prisoner Suicides

by JRSBlogWriterJune 26, 2017
Ways to Reduce Prisoner Suicides

The public does not often hear much about suicide rates in prisons, yet that number has been on the rise since 2003. However, when former NFL tight-end Aaron Hernandez hung himself in his cell in April of this year, the public took notice.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics suicide rates in prisons have begun to rise sharply starting in 2013. In state prisons, the rate increased by 30 percent between 2013 and 2014. Suicides represent 7% of prison deaths, the largest percentage of deaths due to suicide since tracking began in 2001. Many prison administrators are trying creative ways to tackle the problem.

CNN reports that “researchers at the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that trained inmate ‘observers’ could reduce the amount of time suicidal prisoners remained on watch by nearly 45 hours on average.” That study estimated a potential yearly savings in $300,000 in overtime alone by reducing the amount of time prisoners are “watched” by staff. The theory is that prisoners at risk of taking their own lives are less likely to do so when they are always in the company of another inmate.

In addition to the overtime costs incurred for staff to watch prisoners, there are the inevitable court costs that follow an inmate's suicide. Win or lose; those costs add up to millions of taxpayer dollars.

Another way of reducing suicide is to protect prisoners against opportunities to inflict self-harm through the minimization of ligature points. The trick can often be in identifying all the potential ligature points in a prisoner’s cell.

For example, when you consider one of the most common methods of suicide, which is hanging, you might immediately look at the ceiling trying to identify potential hazards. Yet, hanging suicides often use a ligature point below the head. Therefore, it is important for facilities to identify anchor points below the head or even close to the floor.

In other words, the toilet you choose is as important a consideration as the shower head. The drain is as important a decision as the air vent on the ceiling.

Acorn Engineering Company manufactures durable, vandal-resistant products designed to help protect inmates from inflicting self-harm by reducing ligature points, ultimately minimizing your risk.

Constructed of high-grade stainless steel, the Acorn ligature-resistant line includes toilets, sinks, combination units, showers, tri-lever handle mixing valves, hemispherical deck mount bubblers, and more.

Our ligature resistant products are designed to be easy to install and are cost effective, which means they make retrofitting your facility far less expensive than you might imagine.

View our complete line of ligature-resistant products, or contact us for more information and guidance on what products are right for your facility.