Sheriff requests suicide prevention upgrades in next county budget

Cost is expected to be $833,000 during the next two years

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins has submitted a package of budget requests for several upgrades to the Clark County Jail which are designed to reduce opportunities for inmates to commit suicide while in custody.

Atkins is requesting budget authority from the Board of County Councilors to replace the current jail beds with suicide resistant beds.

“We’ve already had three inmates commit suicide using their bed frames,” said Atkins. “I feel a strong responsibility to mitigate the risk of future suicides as much as possible and installing suicide-resistant bunks is a necessary first step.”

The Clark County Jail has already started converting older style ventilation screens to a suicide-resistant screen and has provided crisis intervention training to most corrections deputies and all newly hired corrections deputies.

“As much as we do to mitigate suicides, it seems to never be enough,” said Jail Chief Ric Bishop. “It’s very difficult to prevent someone from harming themselves, but we have an obligation to mitigate the risks as we identify them.”

Atkins is recommending the council approve the purchase of an inmate suicide monitoring system and audiovisual resources to help inmates in crisis.

The inmate suicide monitoring system will record the vital signs of high risk inmates and will alert corrections deputies when those vital signs indicate an inmate is in distress. Installing a closed-circuit television system, as well as suicide resistant mounting hardware, will provide inmates with expanded educational programming as well as information on how to identify and report an inmate who may be contemplating suicide.

The total cost for this package is $833,000 during the next two-year budget cycle.

“The next two-year budget cycle is the first one in which I will have input as the elected sheriff,” said Atkins. “Reducing or eliminating suicides in the jail is a priority for me but I need the council’s help in implementing meaningful improvements.”