Initiating Custodial Responsibilities While Protecting Inmates and Staff

Having designed over 150 correctional facilities over the past 40 years, our team at L.R. Kimball remains focused on facility designs that support safe, efficient and effective operations. One correctional facility design feature we like to include has a variety of names but most often is referred to as a Protective Custody or Behavioral Management Cell.

Every correctional facility will benefit by including this feature in their operations. For those facilities that rely upon this protective holding space, it will most certainly be utilized daily. This specially designed cell creates a safer environment for both detainees and staff. Every possible scenario of custodial problem with contamination and combative behavior is mitigated if not neutralized by implementing these cells. Even the temporary holding/staging and triage of extremely suicidal subjects is facilitated by use of these cells.

What’s so special about the design of this cell versus a regular holding cell? Designs and vendors vary, but these cells are designed with heavy padding on all surfaces and are sealed with very heavy gauge Kevlar fabric and further coated with a liquid sealant. The final product is cut and tear resistant, fluid impermeable and sufficiently padded to protect those persons who present violent and non-compliant behaviors. Visual sight lines are maintained through windows with high security, impact resistant glazing. Another important feature is the recessed sanitary floor drain which is flushable from outside the room where staff can hose down the entire room with cleaners and disinfectant and flush that residue down the drain. These same contaminants would have otherwise been introduced to the interior of your facility further contaminating and constricting your operation.

L.R. Kimball designed three protective custody cells for the Butler County Prison in Butler, Pennsylvania. Butler County Prison Warden, Joe DeMore, C.J.M, C.C.E. states, “Whether it is an inebriated new commitment, an unpredictable and combative inmate, or an inmate that is suicidal, the Behavioral Management Cell (BMC) is the choice option for prisoner containment. Unlike the Violent Prisoner Restraint Chair, the BMC offers a less restrictive level of prisoner restraint while still providing adequate barriers to self-harm and assaultive behaviors. It provides a safe and secluded location to place a volatile or suicidal inmate because it does not have a steel toilet, bunk, sink or other objects that have been used in the past to inflict self-injury or to cause property damage. It offers a more humane and practical option than other extreme, but necessary, measures that have to be used in the absence of a BMC.”

So, what’s the lasting impact of this specially designed cell on your operations? While this cell can be designed to fit almost anywhere in your facility, any central repository for new arrests and transfers will benefit from this feature. Its design and location, if adjacent to the Vehicle Sallyport, affords custody staff in the Admissions & Release area the ability to accept an arrestee or detainee from law enforcement into an area of direct observation and queued up for processing who may be impaired by drug inducement or contaminated with a great variety of substances e.g.; body fluids – blood, urine, feces, vomitus. This also extends to subjects that have been exposed to Oleoresin Capsicum (OC- pepper spray) from an arrest or other official law enforcement contact. Employing the benefits of this protective custody cell allows staff to initiate their care and custodial duties, while not contaminating the work area. Additionally, for those persons who are combative and/or displaying excessive non-compliance, this specialty cell feature allows the subject time to decompress. It is during this same decompression time that custody staff are able to summon additional staff and resources to manage the subject including medical triage if necessary to better address the needs of the detainee.

By: David McRoberts, CPP
Security & Operations Specialist
L.R. Kimball