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Preventing In-custody Fatalities in The Washoe County Detention Center

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.

Reduction of Crime and Jail Population

Reduction of Crime and Jail Population

If predictions are correct, the population of Washoe County will nearly double in the next decade. As the population increases so will the need to house additional inmates, resulting in a potential need to double the capacity of the Washoe County Jail.

An extraordinary  number of inmates are addicted to drugs, alcohol or are mentally ill. Those diagnosed with a mental illness frequently are not compliant with their medications and often self medicate with drugs or alcohol in order to gain control over their lives. This can ultimately lead to homelessness or a life of crime to support their addictions. These lifestyles almost always lead to police involvement and incarceration.

Investing in Community Health: How it can Save Lives and Money

Investing in Community Health: How it can Save Lives and Money

Saving Lives:

The creation of a Ground Zero Unit within the detention center is my highest priority.  The unit would be comprised of inmates who are addicted to drugs or alcohol and want to participate in an intensive in-house treatment program. This program is designed to prepare inmates for the transition into the comprehensive, wrap-around services provided by C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships), such as Crossroads Reno and Sober 24 facilities. 

To make this possible, it will require Sheriff’s Office leadership to not only think outside the box, but to throw the box away completely! The words WE CAN’T or IT CAN’T BE DONE or WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY, can no longer consume our mindsets.