May 21, 2019

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Restraint Chairs

Gordon Graham
Category: Law Enforcement, Corrections

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for law enforcement and corrections.

When folks with mental health issues are in custody, we need to do what we can to guard their health and well-being.

Today’s tip is for law enforcement and corrections officers. We are talking about the proper use of the restraint chair. 

I read an article recently about a county jail inmate. The inmate suffered from schizophrenia. After being refused admittance to a mental health facility, the inmate ended up in jail. And he spent a long time in the restraint chair. Then he died. 

Mental health is a very complex issue. It seems like jails have become de-facto mental health institutions. Reasonable people disagree about whether these folks should be in jail at all. But we’re not getting into that today. The fact is that when these folks are in custody, we need to do what we can to guard their health and well being. 

If you are going to use the restraint chair, here are a few tips. Know and follow your department’s policy. Only use the restraint chair when you think it’s necessary. To overcome resistance. To prevent escape. To protect an inmate from self-injury. Or to bring an incident under control. And don’t use it any longer than necessary.  

In general, an inmate shouldn’t be in a restraint chair for an extended period of time. But if you think that an exception should be made for the situation you are facing, get approval from an appropriate supervisor firstCall medical staff. Ensure adequate facetoface observation is taking placeMonitor the inmate. Reassess the situation. Determine if the continued use of the restraint chair is warranted. Make sure that the inmate is reevaluated by medical personnelProvide food and water. And be sure to document everything in case a question arises later. 

Using the restraint chair is very serious business. Make sure your facility has a good policy for restraint chair use. And then follow that policy.  

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off. 

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