A yet to be named Philadelphia prison inmate committed suicide at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on Tuesday. City officials blame understaffing for the incident.
The 65-year-old deceased inmate hanged himself in his cell when detention officers were not around to supervise the cells. This reports comes from Lorenzo North, head of Philadelphia’s Union of Correctional Officers, Local 159.
According to North, there are 1,900 prison guards in Philadelphia. But, the facility does not have fully-manned prison cells to prevent ugly incidents such as suicides. Investigators say two correctional officers were supposed to supervise the cells when the inmate killed himself. But, only one was on duty, Newsworks reports.
North blames understaffing and insufficient manpower for the suicide of the Philadelphia prison inmate.
Understaffing Coverup: Officers Order Inmates to Stay in Their Cells
North says that it is natural for a correctional officer to call in sick or go on vacation. But, a replacement should have been secured:
“Before any post becomes vacant, they’re [city officials] supposed to call people in on overtime, if they have to.
But they don’t do that.”
To cover up for shortage of supervisory manpower, North alleges that correctional officers order inmates to remain inside their cells. This restricts them from all forms of free movement. It was confirmed that there was restricted movement when the Philadelphia prison inmate hanged himself within his cell.
How Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility Handles Understaffing Issues
Prison spokeswoman Shawn Hawes said inmates are restricted to their cells during shifts to allow detention officers 30-minute meal breaks. Mayoral spokeswoman Lauren Hitt disclosed that one detention officer monitors the pod where prisoners are kept, while two or three officers patrol the pods.
There are three shifts per day and two movement restrictions occur within each shift.
Angus Love, executive director of Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project objects to the frequency of restricted movement. Love believes it is helping inmates commit more suicides:
“When enough guards don’t show up, they just lock the joint down for the day.”
According to Love, restricting the movements of inmates arbitrarily is an abuse of their rights as humans.
Family of Philadelphia Prison Inmate Has Not Been Notified of His Suicide
Hawes agreed that the number of correctional officers is not as high as the city wants it to be right now. Philadelphia prison authorities are “always recruiting” to cover the gap. Asked to identify the deceased inmate by name, she declined. According to Hawes, the family of the Philadelphia prison inmate has not been notified of his suicide yet.
NewsWorks quotes Lauren Hitt as saying:
“While obviously one suicide is too many, Philadelphia has a very low rate of inmate suicides compared to other jurisdictions.
To prevent suicides, we do regular cell checks and, when suicidal individuals are identified, they are placed under one-on-one direct observation until a behavioral health assessment is done.”
Prison suicides are becoming a major epidemic in the U.S.
And, it’s affecting male prisoners, female prisoners and transgender prisoners as well.
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