Potter Co. Detention Center utilizes new restraint equipment
AMARILLO, Texas —
According to a study done in 2014 for USA Today, there had been nearly 40 restraint chair deaths at county jails across the country since the chairs were introduced in the late 1990s.
The Potter County Sheriff's Office recently bought a unique piece of equipment to ensure the safety of their inmates who must be restrained.
Officials demonstrated how it compares to what they've used for more than a decade.
“It hasn't happened here, but there are other agencies that they've had put in restraints and basically hog tied and put on their stomachs and they have died because of not being able to breathe,” said PCSO Chief Deputy David Johnson.
"The Wrap" is a new restraint system being used at the Potter County Detention Center.
Officials say they’ve had it for two months and have used it multiple times to restrain inmates who have become a danger to themselves or others.
“Using their fists and legs to kick at the cell walls, doors and windows,” said PCSO Corrections Officer Dixon. ”Sometimes even their head. They bang their head against the door."
Dixon and other corrections officers at the Potter County Detention Center said it takes less force to use “The Wrap” and it's safer for inmates because there's hardly any pressure on their chests.
“The restraints go over the shoulders and a strap pulls it out away from the chest allowing the inmate to breathe easier. It's easier to transport to the scene with it being in the bag, quicker to apply and safer for the inmate during the restraint,” said Dixon.
“The strap holds them forward, so it's not going to compress on their chest,” said Potter County Detention Center Medical Officer Jason Dennis. “It's not going to squeeze them or anything like that, there's no restriction on the chest cavity at all.”
Corrections officers there also use an emergency restraint chair.
Even though it does have more pressure on the chest, corrections officers tells ABC 7 News it is better in certain situations, such as an inmate continuing to hit their head on the ground.
Once an inmate is put into a restraint, a medical officer will check to make sure they have adequate circulation and that there's no respiratory compromise.
The medical officer will also check the inmate's blood pressure and pulse.
In addition to being checked on every 15 minutes by corrections officers, a medical officer monitors the restrained inmate every two hours.
The PCSO said they purchased two "wraps" for nearly $1,350 by using money spent by inmates in commissary.