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Alabama DOC Agrees to Implement Suicide Prevention Measures

by David Reutter

The Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) agreed to an interim settlement in a class action lawsuit that requires it to implement suicide prevention measures. The agreement was approved on January 12, 2017, by the federal district court overseeing the action.

The prisoners, who were represented by the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, reached an agreement that requires ADOC to hire a licensed mental health professional (LMHP) at each major prison. At the treatment hubs, Bullock, Donaldson, and Tutwiler, there must be two licensed LMHPs on site for at least eight hours on business days, at least one LMHP on weekends.

Any prison employee or contractor can present a prisoner for suicide watch, which requires the prisoner to be under “constant watch” until evaluated. If the prisoner is determined to be acutely suicidal, constant watch will continue. Those who are nonacutely suicidal must be close monitored “at staggered intervals not to exceed 15 minutes.”

Both constant and close monitoring will be contemporaneously documented at staggered 15 minute intervals “on a record maintained on each individual cell door.” Prior to release from suicide watch, an evaluation must occur. Once so released, there must be “at least three follow-up examinations by mental health staff” within 30 days--the first within three calendar days of release, and the second within seven days.

As a result of the agreement, the class withdrew its motion for temporary restraining order without prejudice to refile later. ADOC was ordered by the court to comply with the agreement until it entered “a final order in Phase 2A of this case.”

See: Braggs v. Dunn, USDC, M.D. Alabama, Case No 2:14-CV-601.

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Related legal case

Braggs v. Dunn