Letting Sunlight Through The Bars

Lex Berko explores ways to reduce inmate suicides:

According to the World Health Organization, hanging is the most common form of inmate suicide, a fact that guides most prisoner suicide prevention policies. Rooms should contain no protrusions to which a noose can be tied. That includes doorknobs, clothing hangers, and light fixtures. Items that can be used as nooses or ligatures should also be removed from cells. A seemingly harmless laundry bag cord can become fatal in the hands of someone intent on suicide. …

But what is also interesting are more subtle touches that Hayes lays out.

Housing placement should be based on increasing interaction with staff, “not on decisions that heighten depersonalizing aspects of confinement“. All cells should have a view of the outside world to connect inmates to the larger world. “The ability to identify time of day via sunlight helps re-establish perception and natural thinking while minimizing disorientation,” says Hayes’ checklist. So while it should be obvious, preventing inmate suicide is not just about confiscating the materials necessary to successfully kill oneself, but also about ensuring the general mental stability of those under correctional facility care. Sunlight makes humans feel human, something that can be elusive in the confines of a prison cell.