Duty of a Correctional Facility to Prevent Suicide
Duty to Prevent Suicide
Jails, prisons, and other types of correctional or detention facilities have a legal duty to ensure the safety of their inmates. This duty arises because the facility has actual physical custody of and control over its inmates. As part of this duty, the facility has a limited duty to prevent its inmates from committing suicide while in custody.
The duty to prevent a particular inmate from committing suicide arises when it is reasonably foreseeable that the inmate will attempt to commit suicide. Foreseeability of the risk of suicide will depend on the particular inmate, his behavior while in custody, and the circumstances of his detention. Inmates who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and inmates who show obvious signs of mental illness or distress may be more likely to commit suicide.
In order to prevent suicides, a facility must take certain preventive measures. First, the facility should implement screening procedures designed to identify inmates who pose a risk of suicide. Second, the facility should confiscate personal items (such as belts) with which inmates could injure themselves. Third, the facility should ensure that inmates are regularly monitored by correction officers and that inmates who have been identified as suicide risks are closely monitored.