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New guidelines for jail deputies

OW Staff Writer | 8/19/2016, midnight
Sheriff’s deputies who serve in Los Angeles County’s jails will use new procedures when restraining inmates after several prisoners were ...

Sheriff’s deputies who serve in Los Angeles County’s jails will use new procedures when restraining inmates after several prisoners were tethered to tables or doors for long periods of time without care or supervision, resulting in one man’s death, it was reported this week.

A report completed in June but made public Friday listed new policies to guide deputies and their supervisors when restraints are necessary, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. The report, released by the Los Angeles County’s Office of Inspector General, found that while deputies and their supervisors were wrong in their methods, vague policies were also a factor.

The inmate who died had displayed “bizarre behavior.” He was tethered with his left wrist handcuffed to his waist chain, which was inserted through the cell door’s tray slot and secured to an outside door handle. He remained in that position for more than 10 hours without regular supervision. The prisoner, who had swallowed meth, died.

The new procedures include discouraging the use of restraints as punishment. If restraints are used, the inmate must be in an area where there are cameras, and they can’t be left alone for too long without regular supervision by both deputies and their superiors, the newspaper reported. Also, restraints cannot be used as mental health treatment.

The inspector general’s report acknowledges that restraints are part of controlling inmates under some circumstances. But the goal of the new procedures is to help deputies use them within reason. The procedures are pending approval by the United States Justice Department.

Sheriff Jim McDonnell acknowledged the incidents, including one in which an inmate was restrained for 32 hours with no meals or access to the restroom. He relieved 10 jail personnel of duty, after he learned about it. In response to the inspector general’s report, McDonnell said classes will begin to update deputies of the new procedures, the Daily News reported.