Continuity of Care for Released Inmates
Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. And Today’s Tip deals with inmate releases from jail and continuity of care.
Our liability does not end when the inmate walks out of our jail and the steel gate closes behind him or her.
When is the last time you found yourself downtown in the middle of the night with no money, no place to go, no friends or family and maybe no necessary medications? Probably never, right? Congratulations; like me, you’re in the majority.
But what about those less fortunate souls who are possibly homeless, have no money, family or friends, or who may be mentally ill and who have just been released from jail? Do we wash our hands of them and have no responsibility upon their release? What time of the day does your agency generally release inmates? In the middle of the night? Anytime? Do released inmates receive any follow-up references for medical, mental health, drug or alcohol withdrawal or housing options before being released?
There are documented incidents of inmates being released into the heart of major metropolitan cities in the middle of the night with no money, no means of transportation, no hope for even temporary housing and no necessary medications. In one instance, a mentally ill inmate was released from a downtown jail in the middle of the night adjacent to a train station. He was struck and killed by a train. The county paid. Another inmate was released in the middle of the night and sat in the inmate reception center lobby for two days before he was discovered and treated for dehydration and his mental health condition. He had nowhere to go and no one to call. Again, the county paid.
What do your polices say about inmate releases and continuity of care following the release from custody? Our liability does not end when the inmate walks out of our jail and the steel gate closes behind him or her. Please ensure that your agency has the appropriate policies and practices in place concerning these important jail release issues. Remember, predictable is preventable.
And that is Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.