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Regulation Of Restrictive Housing In Jails

Concerning regulations for restrictive housing in local jails.
2021 Regular Session
Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement
Bill Summary

Beginning July 1, 2022, the act prohibits a local jail with a bed capacity of over 400 beds from involuntarily placing an individual in restrictive housing if the individual meets any one of the following conditions:

  • The individual is diagnosed with a serious mental illness or is exhibiting grossly abnormal and irrational behaviors or breaks with reality or perceptions of reality indicating the presence of a serious mental illness;
  • The individual has self-reported a serious mental illness or suicidality, or is exhibiting self-harm, unless a licensed mental health professional or psychiatrist evaluates the individual and finds serious mental illness is not present;
  • The individual has a significant auditory or visual impairment that cannot otherwise be accommodated;
  • The individual is pregnant or in the postpartum period;
  • The individual is significantly neurocognitively impaired by a condition such as dementia or a traumatic brain injury;
  • The individual is under 18 years of age; or
  • The individual has an intellectual or developmental disability.

The prohibition does not apply if:

  • Any indication of psychological distress is present and the jail transferred the individual to a health-care facility to receive treatment and the individual is refused treatment or discharged by the health-care facility; and
  • The individual poses an imminent danger to themselves or others; and
  • No other less restrictive option is available and the individual is not responding to ongoing de-escalation techniques.

When an individual is placed in restrictive housing under the above circumstances, the local jail shall:

  • Document the facts and circumstances that led to placing the individual into restrictive housing;
  • Notify its medical or mental health professionals in writing within 12 hours of placing an individual in restrictive housing;
  • Notify the individual's appointed or retained legal representative, designated emergency contact, or legal guardian within 12 hours of the individual's involuntary placement and removal in restrictive housing;
  • At least twice per hour, check on an individual involuntarily placed in restrictive housing. If the individual is violent, demonstrating unusual or bizarre behavior, or has indicated suicidality or self-harm, the local jail staff shall monitor the individual every fifteen minutes or more frequently, unless a medical or mental health professional recommends more frequent or less frequent checks.
  • Every 24 hours, assess the individual involuntarily placed in restrictive housing by a medical or mental health professional and have a mental health professional assess the individual every 48 hours for ongoing placement in restrictive housing;
  • Provide the individual a clear explanation of the reason the individual has been placed in restrictive housing, the monitoring procedures that the local jail will employ to check the individual, the date and the time, when the individual's next court date is, and the behavioral criteria the individual must demonstrate to be released from restrictive housing;
  • Not hold the individual in restrictive housing for more than 15 days in a 30-day time period without a written court order; and
  • Supply the individual with basic hygiene necessities; exchanges of clothing, bedding, and linen; access to writing letters or receiving letters; opportunities for visitation; access to legal materials; access to reading materials; a minimum of one hour of outdoor exercise 5 days a week outside of the cell; telephone privileges; and access to programs and services.

The act requires medical or mental health professional to assess any individual placed in restrictive housing within 24 hours of placement.

The act requires a local jail to use an adequate screening tool to complete a health screening of each inmate when the inmate arrives at the jail.

Beginning January 1, 2022, the act requires each local jail to keep and maintain a record of certain data regarding each individual placed in restrictive housing and certain data regarding each individual with a mental illness or substance use disorder.

(Note: This summary applies to this bill as enacted.)


Became Law


Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details