Department of Corrections to Testify on Suicide Prevention

Thursday, Nov 7, 2013  |  Updated 7:27 AM EDT
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Dept. of Corrections to Testify on Suicide Prevention

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A D.C. Department of Corrections official will testify Wednesday on the work the agency is doing to prevent suicides among inmates at the D.C. jail.

Back in July, Tom Faust, the director of the Department of Corrections, ordered a review of the department's practices and policies following a rash of suicides last summer. 

In addition to a review of mental health assessments and screenings, Faust also requested that the National Institute of Corrections provide an expert on suicide prevention to review all jail procedures.

Wednesday, Faust will testify before a D.C. Council committee on what procedures the department will enact to prevent the men and women in their care from taking their own lives.

The highest profile suicide occurred the same month the task force was created -- Labor Department attorney Paul Mannina, who was charged with sexually assaulting his co-worker, was found dead in his cell with his throat cut.

In November 2012, 30-year-old Michael English, who was the suspect in a stabbing, was found hanged in his cell. Then, Walter Calloway, 42, was found hanged in his cell on June 29. The Washington Post reported he was a suspect in a child sex abuse case.

A month after the task force was formed, Mike Johnson, 53, was found hanged in his cell.

In September, D.C. officials told News4's I-Team they were removing towel racks, taking away shaving razors and placing prisoners with suicidal tendencies inside two-person cells.
 
Inside federal prisons, inmates are only allowed to wear clothing and use hygiene item issued by jail officials. Those with suicidal tendencies are kept in areas without fixtures that easily allow "self injury," officials said. 
 
D.C. prison officials also said they would be watching suicidal inmates more closely and not letting them be alone for more than 15 minutes.
 
 

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