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Is Increased Jail Staffing Necessary to Reduce the Number of Suicides in Texas Jails? – Part 7

Inside The Old Idaho State Penitentiary

Face-to-Face Observation of Inmates

Inmates who have been confined in a detoxification cell or a holding cell must be observed in person by jailers every 30 minutes at most. Three Texas jails were cited for violation of this standard in 2020. The following are the basic messages relayed to each of the three jails with regard to evidence of non-compliance with this standard:

  1. During the review of observation logs detailing supervision of inmates in the detox/holding cells, inspectors found that the required face-to-face observations are not being conducted every 30 minutes or less on a regular basis, which is a violation of minimum jail standards.
  2. Records show that jail staff members are not conducting the required welfare checks of inmates every 30 minutes in the holding cells and detox cells.
  3. Video records of observation checks of inmates in the holding cells show that in February 2020, during a four-day period, face-to-face observations exceeded the 30-minute maximum time frame on multiple occasions.

Inmate observation checks are important, especially for inmates who are at risk. When checks are made properly, the ability of jailers to clearly view the inmates cannot be obstructed. For instance, inmates should understand that when they go to sleep, they must not fully cover themselves with the blanket. Observation checks involve medical considerations, and ensuring that a prisoner is breathing and not in a state of distress is why inmates must not cover up their entire body from view.

See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and this ongoing series about Texas jails cited by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards (TCJS) for non-compliance.

This post is meant as a source of information. There is not an intention in this or other blog posts on this website to suggest that misconduct of any kind has occurred on the part of any institution, organization, or individual.

–Guest Contributor

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