Preventing In-custody Fatalities in The Washoe County Detention Center
The rise in fatalities occurring in our detention facilities is unacceptable. It needs to become a priority among all Washoe County Sheriff’s staff to reduce the number of preventable deaths in our custody. Not only is this our responsibility, it is a basic human right that cannot be compromised!
The Washoe County Detention Center was one of the first Direct Supervision Jails in the U.S., proving to be a successful model for the care and custody of inmates. The principles practiced by deputies under the Direct Supervision model allowed staff to consistently monitor, interact, and intervene in the lives of inmates more directly. These frequent interventions provided deputies with the information they needed to identify inmates who were experiencing suicidal thoughts or required assistance with life threatening medical conditions.
Due to budget cuts and an increase in inmate populations, Washoe County is no longer practicing the principles of Direct Supervision as designed.
To reduce preventable deaths of inmates we must identify these warning signs in a timely manner and specialized training is an essential component.
As your Washoe County Sheriff, I will reimplement the Direct Supervision model, which will help prevent the recurrence of these tragedies in the future. We need to modify the way we handle the medical care of inmates from the moment they enter the facility and make sure our officers are better trained in recognizing when an inmate is in critical condition. My plan is to institute a Direct Supervision training course for Washoe County deputies and recruit more staff to work within our facilities. This new plan will be accompanied by a medical provider who will prepare staff with relevant training.
If these components continue to remain un-handled, Washoe County and the Sheriff’s Office could end up paying out in litigation. Since litigation costs are far more expensive in the long run, we need to invest our tax dollars in preventing fatality cases before they happen. By providing the right level of medical care to inmates from the beginning, more money will be saved in the long run.