The jail's suicide policy was "verbal," not written, and prescribed that inmates who made statements about self-harm would be evaluated for suicide watch, in which status they would be segregated, checked on every 15 minutes, given medical treatment and counselling, deprived of clothing and other belongings, required to wear a paper gown, and restricted from access to the commissary and telephone and from having visitors.
After a certified mental health screener said that the decedent seemed "perky and talkative with a positive outlook" and an officer with no mental health training and a nurse had the same impression, they discussed it with senior staff members and he was taken off suicide watch, and of course killed himself the next day.
The "Low-Level Employees" are all entitled to summary judgment. The failure to consult a mental health professional (the qualifications of the "certified mental health screener" are not stated) was not deliberate indifference. At 400: "Rather, that failure is evidence that the Department's underlying suicide policy was flawed for not having a professional on staff to consult." At 403:
A reasonable factfinder could conclude that the absence of qualified mental health personnel who could assist the Department employees in making an assessment of an inmate's suicidal vulnerability was a serious deficiency in the Department's suicide policy that created a serious risk that injury or death would result from an inmate's attempted or successful suicide.
There was also a factual issue as to the Warden's knowledge of the resulting serious risk. Summary judgment is therefore denied to the Department and the Warden. See: Estate of Cills v. Kaftan, 105 F.Supp.2d 391 (D.N.J. 2000).
As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.
Already a subscriber? Login
Related legal case
Estate of Cills v. Kaftan
|Cite||105 F.Supp.2d 391 (D.N.J. 2000)|