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Suicide and the Jail Environment : An Evaluation of Three Types of Institutions


Christine Tartaro Environment and Behavior 2003 35: 605 DOI: 10.1177/0013916503254753 The online version of this article can be found at: http://eab.sagepub.com/content/35/5/605

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Tartaro / SUICIDE AND THE ENVIRONMENT AND BEHAVIOR / September 2003 10.1177/0013916503254753 JAIL ENVIRONMENT ARTICLE

SUICIDE AND THE JAIL ENVIRONMENT An Evaluation of Three Types of Institutions

CHRISTINE TARTARO is an assistant professor at Stockton College. She received her masters degree and Ph.D. in criminal justice from Rutgers University. Prior to entering the teaching field, she worked as a researcher for the New Jersey Department of Corrections and the Police Foundation. Her research interests include prison and jail violence, suicide, sexual assault in prison, sentencing, and the history of punishment.

ABSTRACT: A sample of 321 jail administrators identified their facilities as being either linear intermittent; podular, indirect supervision; or podular, direct supervision. Logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the odds of these jails experiencing at least one inmate suicide during 1998. Jail design and supervision were not found to affect the likelihood of these jails reporting at least one inmate suicide. Other possible factors, such as aggregate inmate sex and age, the percent of pretrial detainees, officer/inmate ratio, the number of bookings, and the amount of time that officers spent in the inmate living areas were controlled for in the models. Keywords: jail; suicide; podular, direct supervision; new generation

Police and corrections officials have a duty to protect those in their custody, and this includes protecting detainees from themselves. The threat of suicide by a detainee is an issue that concerns employees of every lockup, jail, and prison nationwide, especially since courts have shown their willingness to award victims families in civil suits (Kappeler, 1993; Kappeler, Vaughn, & Del Carmen, 1991). Incarceration is clearly not a desirable event for anyone, as feelings of frustration and despair typically follow arrest. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that many detainees in the lockups and jails are put there while
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under the influence of drugs and alcohol (Davis & Muscat, 1993; Farmer, Felthous, & Holzer, 1996; Hayes, 1989; Hayes & Rowan, 1988). These inmates must come to terms with a possible lengthy incarceration, loss of contact with family and friends, the possible loss of a job if legally employed prior to arrest, and an overall feeling of loss of control over their lives. Before discussing existing suicide prevention techniques, it is important to understand the factors of jail suicide including when, where, and how these incidents occur. The National Center on Institutions and Alternatives found, While the average length of stay in detention facilities is six to eleven days, over 30 percent of all suicide victims in these facilities are dead within the first twenty-four hours of incarceration (Hayes, 1989, p. 21). Marcus and Alcabes (1993), in their study of an urban jail, reported that 50% of suicides occurred within 3 days of a court appearance. The National Commission on Correctional Health Cares (NCCHCs) standards (cited in Hayes, 1996) identified the following high-risk periods for inmates: immediately after admission to the facility, immediately after adjudication, following an inmates return to the facility from court, following the receipt of bad news regarding family or himself or herself, and after suffering humiliation or rejection. Since many victims commit suicide within the first 24 to 48 hours of incarceration (Hayes, 1989), they are in a situation where they have few belongings, such as razors or other sharp objects in their cells. That typically leaves them with hanging (a generic term for hanging, suffocation, self-suspension, or strangulation) (Ingram, Johnson, & Hayes, 1997), which is used by more than 90% of jail inmates who commit suicide (Hayes, 1989; Ingram et al., 1997; Marcus & Alcabes, 1993). Additionally, two thirds of jail suicide victims commit suicide while in isolation (Hayes, 1989). Researchers have found that males are more likely to commit suicide than females both inside and outside of correctional facilities (Hayes, 1989; Lester, 1987). Juveniles are also at a higher risk than adults (Atlas, 1987). Offenders who have a history of drug and alcohol problems or who are incarcerated while under the influence of one of these substances are also more likely to attempt suicide (Davis & Muscat, 1993; Farmer et al., 1996; Liebling, 1992; Loucks & Spencer, 1997). To summarize, jail suicides are likely to occur while victims are in isolation or during certain high-stress periods, and the weapon of choice (or the only one readily available) is some instrument for hanging or strangulation. Although we do have some information on characteristics of victims, profiles of victims based on characteristics such as race, marital status, or offense type should not be an integral part of a prevention program. Overreliance on such data has the potential to result in overidentification of those who are not

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suicidal (false positives) and the underprediction of those who are truly at risk (false negatives) (Liebling, 1992; Lloyd, 1990). Furthermore, Lloyd (1990) found that many variables that are associated with suicidal behavior are also characteristics of the entire correctional population. A common approach to jail suicide prevention is the use of what are considered hard prevention techniques. These techniques commonly involve suicide-proof cells or special clothing for potential victims. The suicideproof cells are typically stripped-down rooms with no amenities. Inmates are usually placed in these rooms alone with little clothing or a paper or tearproof dress. Proponents of this method argue that suicidal inmates need to be deprived of any opportunity to harm themselves. Critics, however, claim that this practice has the potential to be more harmful to those it is intended to help. Inch, Rowlands, and Soliman (1995) noted that isolation, even if it is for their own protection, might increase inmates sense of despair thus providing extra motivation for suicide. The move may also increase the inmates chances of making a successful attempt, because detection and intervention may not occur until it is too late. Because many suicides in jails occur early in a detainees stay, jails cannot completely rely on therapy or work, education, and recreation programs to occupy inmates time and give them a sense of direction. As a result, manipulation of the physical environment should be an important aspect of any jail and lockup suicide prevention plan. It must be understood, however, that overreliance on certain techniques, such as isolation in a barren cell, can exacerbate the situation. Reser (1992) explained that proper preventive design not only reduces the opportunity for suicide but also alleviates distress that inmates feel. The podular, direct supervision jail has been viewed by numerous corrections officials and researchers as a possible answer to the problem of balancing opportunity reduction with stress alleviation among inmates. What follows is a brief review of three well-known jail designs: linear intermittent; podular, indirect/remote supervision; and podular, direct supervision.

LINEAR INTERMITTENT DESIGN

Auburn (in New York), Eastern State Penitentiary (in Pennsylvania), and nearly all other prisons and jails from the 18th century through the 1970s adopted the linear, intermittent design and supervision style. Linear refers to the architectural design of the facility (Zupan, 1991), which includes a rectangular design with corridors leading to either single- or multiple-occupancy

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cells (Nelson, 1983). Corridors are usually arranged either at acute or right angles (Nelson, 1983; Zupan, 1991). The placement of cells along these corridors presents a dilemma for corrections officers, because their sight lines are poor. Intermittent surveillance refers to the type of inmate supervision conducted in linear jails (Zupan, 1991). Corrections officers frequently monitor inmates by periodically walking through the corridors and looking into the cells. Nelson (1983) and Zupan (1991) noted that a linear design combined with this method of supervision presents numerous security problems. The lack of constant supervision makes prevention of assaults, rapes, homicides, suicides, vandalism, and gang formation unlikely (Zupan, 1991; Zupan & Stohr-Gillmore, 1988). Inmates who reside in this type of jail tend to have the opportunity to at least begin a suicide attempt without officers detecting it. Another feature of the linear, intermittent design that is thought to influence inmate behavior is the message that the environment sends to its inhabitants. Since inmates are not under constant supervision, they have the opportunity to be violent and destructive. In anticipation of this behavior, these jails have been equipped with vandal-resistant furnishings (Nelson, 1986; Zupan, 1991). Steel or concrete beds and steel toilets and sinks are used, because they are more difficult to damage than wood furniture or porcelain fixtures. Heavy metal doors and bars are also used to prevent escapes (Zupan, 1991). Wener, Frazier, and Farbstein (1993) argued that this setting sends a message that poor behavior is expected of the inmates, because they are placed in cells while staff maintain a safe distance on the other side of the bars. Reser (1989) explained that vandal-proof fixtures express to an inmate that you are a vandal and you cannot damage this fitting, and inmates are likely to respond negatively to this message.

PODULAR, INDIRECT/REMOTE SUPERVISION

Another jail design option is the podular, indirect supervision approach (also referred to as podular, remote supervision). A podular design allows for a more manageable number of inmates in housing units. Cells (often singleoccupancy) in these facilities are clustered around a common dayroom (Nelson, 1986). The design of the facility serves to improve the sight lines of corrections officers thereby allowing for better supervision. Corrections officers supervise inmates from a nearby control booth and call for assistance if a problem occurs in the living units. In these facilities, however, there is still the

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belief among staff and inmates that officers control some areas, whereas inmates control others (Farbstein & Wener, 1989). Although structurally different, podular, indirect supervision jails and linear, intermittent designs share two basic tenets: (a) there is little need for staff and inmates to interact with each other, and (b) vandal-proof fixtures should be placed throughout the jails. Both of these beliefs stem from the conviction that inmates are dangerous and destructive. In podular, indirect facilities, officers and inmates only have contact with each other when problems occur or inmates need to be moved. Otherwise, officers remain in the enclosed control room and communicate with inmates through an intercom system (Farbstein & Wener, 1989). Since inmates are believed to be dangerous enough to warrant placement of officers in the control room rather than in the living units, vandal-resistant furnishings are thought to be necessary, as well. As was noted, these furnishings and fixtures express negative expectations to the inmates.

PODULAR, DIRECT SUPERVISION

The podular, direct supervision model (also known as the new generation jail) originated at three Metropolitan Correctional Centers (MCCs) operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) (Nelson & Davis, 1995). The newly designed jails in San Diego and New York opened in 1974, and the institution in Chicago opened in 1975 (Nelson & Davis, 1995). Violent incidents, homosexual rape, and suicides all declined compared to the old facilities (Wener et al., 1993). County jails later adopted this model, and by 2000, there were nearly 300 new generation jails in the United States (Harding, Linke, Van Court, White, & Clem, 2001). Similar to podular, indirect supervision jails, inmates in podular, direct supervision facilities are housed in mostly single-occupancy (some doubleoccupancy) cells located around a common dayroom. In addition to attempting to improve the observation of inmates, this model aims to enhance interaction between inmates and staff members (Bayens, Williams, & Smykla, 1997a). The goal of new generation jails is to reduce destructive behavior while maximizing control of the inmate population. The two main components of this model are a normalized physical environment and a management strategy focusing primarily on corrections officers interpersonal communication skills. Many facilities have dayrooms that provide inmates with interaction space (Bayens et al., 1997a), but what sets new generation jails apart from

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others is the design of this area. The original designers of this model envisioned these rooms as containing comfortable furnishings and a tile or carpet floor. The comfortable furnishings serve to reduce stress by making the unit look and sound noninstitutional (Wener et al., 1985). Many of these facilities also provide ample telephones, television sets, and recreation areas. This setting is designed to communicate positive expectations to its residents. In contrast to the reactive approach officers take in linear, intermittent or podular, indirect facilities, officers in new generation jails are expected to be proactive. Bayens et al. (1997a) defined direct supervision as a
method of correctional supervision in which one or more jail officers are stationed inside the living area and are in direct physical interaction with those housed within the pod throughout the day with the ultimate goal of keeping negative behavior in check. (p. 54)

Officers with extensive training in interpersonal relations and conflict management remain in the pods with the inmates all day and night (Zupan & Stohr-Gillmore, 1988). This form of supervision aims to allow officers to control the inmates living areas and to give inmates a sense of security. If done properly, direct supervision should create an environment that is less stressful to the inmates, because the officers presence and proactive approach to order maintenance should result in a less dangerous environment for its residents. This method of supervision, combined with the noninstitutional environment, is thought to not only reduce inmates fear of assault but also reduce suicide attempts. The supervision of inmates is expected to make suicide more difficult, but the more relaxed environment generated by direct supervision and the noninstitutional look of the pods are supposed to prevent the onset of suicidal crises for the residents. Evaluations of jail systems that made the transition from a traditional jail to podular, direct supervision have been positive. Jackson (1992) examined the transition in Sonoma County, California, and found a decline in the number of attempted suicides. Senese (1997) also found a decline in suicides as a county moved from a traditional facility to a new generation jail. Bayens et al. (1997a, 1997b) reported similar results. Wener and colleagues (1985) did find a slight increase in suicides and attempted suicides in a new generation facility, but this was attributed to the lack of visual surveillance of disturbed inmates. The purpose of the current study was to perform a cross-sectional analysis of suicides in traditional (linear, intermittent) jails versus podular, indirect and podular, direct supervision jails using suicide data from 1998. It was hypothesized that there would be a significant difference in jail suicides

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between the different types of facilities with podular, direct supervision jails having fewer suicides. Additional jail-level variables that had been noted in the literature as being related to jail suicide were also included here. The number of inmates housed in each jail was controlled for in multivariate analysis, because common sense would dictate that jails with higher numbers of inmates are prone to more suicides due to the increased number of potential victims. Jail-level inmate variables, such as aggregate inmate sex and age, were also included. Additionally, the survey asked respondents to indicate the percentage of pretrial detainees being held, because it was noted that many suicides occur early in an offenders incarceration. Wooldredge and Winfree (1992) found that the officer/inmate ratio in a jail is an important predictor of suicides, so this was included here. Because an essential element of direct supervision jails is the amount of time officers actually spend in the living areas, respondents were asked about the percent of time the shift officers spent in the pods or units. Finally, a measure of transience was included here. Jails that have inmates coming and going constantly may be faced with the additional problem of officers not knowing the inmates. As officers are able to spend more time with inmates, they are able to detect whether their behavior is abnormal given their personalities. This knowledge of inmate behavior may aid officers in detecting the onset of a suicidal crisis for inmates. The number of bookings for each jail was used as a measure of transience.

METHOD

The original purpose of this study was to compare characteristics of different types of jails (podular direct, podular indirect, and linear intermittent). As part of this effort, surveys were sent to all jails in the American Jail Associations directory with a rated capacity of 51 inmates or higher that were opened before January 1, 1998. Smaller facilities often find it difficult to afford the construction and staff necessary to operate a podular, direct supervision facility (Wener et al., 1993).1 Because it is likely that most small jails are linear intermittent, they were excluded from this study. Surveys were sent to administrators at each eligible facility resulting in responses from 646 jails in 47 statesa 42% return rate. Administrators were asked to include information about inmates residing in their jails and whether they were being held for other jurisdictions or were awaiting transfer to another facility (U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998). Jails that exclusively operate workrelease programs, farm programs, or other community-based initiatives were

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excluded from this analysis. These jails were excluded because the inmates do not spend their days inside the jail itself. The survey instrument included questions about the jails interior designs and supervision strategies. Respondents were asked to indicate whether their facility had a podular design, a linear design, or something other than these two options. Additionally, administrators were asked to report whether they operated under indirect supervision, operationalized as, Officers are stationed in a control room and go into living areas only when needed, or direct supervision, defined as, Officers are stationed inside the living areas and have direct physical interaction with inmates. The wording of the instrument allowed for indirect and intermittent supervision jails to provide the same answer to this question, as the former definition would likely apply to officers in both types of jails. Because the purpose of this study was to examine the differences in suicide rates between podular, direct supervision jails, podular, indirect supervision jails, and linear, intermittent jails, jails that did not meet these criteria were excluded from the current analysis. Forty-one respondents identified their jail design as being something other than podular or linear. Those cases were deleted. Numerous respondents identified their facilities as being part podular, direct supervision and part linear intermittent or podular, indirect supervision. Another set of 171 respondents reported that their jails were a combination of both podular and linear designs (presumably different units or buildings of the jail have different designs). An additional 50 responded that their jails used a combination of direct and indirect supervision (again, the supervision styles likely differed by building or unit). These hybrid jails were removed from the data set. Thirteen respondents identified their jails as being linear and operating under direct supervision, so they were excluded as well. Finally, 14 jails did not respond to the design question, and 12 did not indicate their form of supervision. This left 321 facilities that were either podular, direct supervision (n = 67), podular, indirect supervision (n = 118), or linear intermittent (n = 136).

VARIABLES

A total of 69 jails (23%) reported at least one suicide during 1998 (Table 1), whereas 236 jails (74%) reported having no suicides during 1998. Fiftyeight jails (18%) reported one suicide, 9 facilities (3%) reported two, and 2 (1%) had three suicides. An additional variable was created and coded 1 for one or more suicides in 1998 or 0 for no suicides in 1998.

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TABLE 1 Jail Characteristics n At least one suicide in 1998 Yes (1) No (0) Jail design Linear (1) Podular (0) Type of supervision Indirect (1) Direct (2) Percent male inmates Percent female inmates Percent white inmates Percent nonwhite inmates Percent 24 or younger Percent pretrial detainees Inmate count Officer/inmate ratio Percent inmates housed alone Estimated number of bookings Rate of bookings Transformed rate of bookings Percent of shift spent circulating throughout living areas

Mean

SD

Median

69 236 136 185 254 67 314 314 300 298 272 293 318 309 310 291 284 284

22.6 77.4 42.4 57.6 79.1 20.9

87.88 12.09 58.44 40.57 34.16 52.94 318.36 0.29 22.44

10.91 10.97 26.37 26.15 18.54 24.98 453.44 0.27 28.70

90.00 10.00 60.00 40.00 30.00 54.00 145.50 0.23 10.00 3,458.00 20.95 1.32

13,015.77 73,679.08 38.55 164.09 1.30 0.49

307

57.53

31.96

60.00

Of the respondents, 42% (n = 136) described their jail living areas as having a linear design, whereas 58% (n = 185) were described as podular. When asked about the type of supervision used in these facilities, 79% (n = 254) responded that they used indirect supervision (officers are stationed in a control room and go into living areas only when needed). In contrast, 21% (n = 67) used direct supervision (officers are stationed inside the living areas and have direct physical interaction with inmates). Responding jails had a mean of 88% male detainees, and 58% of the inmates in these jails were White. The facilities held an average of 34% of inmates under the age of 25, and the mean of pretrial inmates was 53%. The participating jails held an average of 318 inmates at the time the surveys were completed. The officer/inmate ratio was calculated by dividing the number of

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officers employed at the facility by the inmate count. The mean officer/ inmate ratio for the participating jails was 0.29. Administrators were asked to report the percentage of officers shifts that they spent circulating throughout the inmatesliving areas. Officers spent a mean of 58% of their shift in the living areas. The current instrument attempted to capture the transience level of each responding jail. The survey included a request for the estimated number of bookings for each jail during 1998. This is far from being a perfect measure of transience, because some jails specifically house sentenced inmates and some counties handle bookings at other locations, such as police lockups. An analysis of the data, however, found that less than 1% of the responding facilities housed sentenced inmates exclusively. Given this finding, the author believes that the estimated number of bookings is a satisfactory measure of transience. The responding jails had a mean of 13,016 bookings during 1998 with a standard deviation of 73,679 and a median of 3,458. A high number of bookings could be a product of jail size. Since larger jails tend to perform more bookings for their respective counties, transience was correlated with rated capacity (r = .244, p = .000). Transience figures were divided by the rated capacities for each jail, but examination of the data revealed that the distribution remained highly skewed (mean = 38.55, SD = 164.09, skewness = 15.62). Log (base 10) transformations were conducted, and this greatly reduced the variability (mean = 1.30, SD = 0.49, skewness = 3.54). This transformed variable was used in the logistic regression model.

FINDINGS

A preliminary, ordinary least squares model was developed to detect multicollinearity (Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). Tolerance statistics indicated that there was little correlation between the independent variables selected. Two logistic regression models were developed with the aforementioned independent variables. The first model included linear design (linear = 1) versus podular design and indirect supervision (indirect = 1) versus direct supervision. The second model included interaction variables for design and supervision (Linear Design Indirect Supervision = 1, Podular Design Indirect Supervision = 1, and Podular Design Direct Supervision was the reference category). The purpose of logistic regression analysis was to estimate the odds ratios for each of the independent variables in the model

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TABLE 2 Logistic Regression Model Without Interaction Variables

SE
Linear design .125 .413 Indirect supervision .975 .534 Inmate count .002** .001 Officer/inmate ratio .032 .608 Rate of bookings .251 .392 Percent of shift circulating in living areas .014* .006 Percent males .035* .015 Percent inmates 24 or younger .004 .010 Percent pretrial inmates .012 .008 Constant 1.686 1.596 2 log likelihood = 206.466

Oddsa
1.002 0.987 0.965

NOTE: a. Odds ratios are presented only for independent variables that have a statistically significant effect (p < .05) on the dependent variable. *p = .05. **p = .01.

(computed using the SPSS [Statistical Package for Social Science] Regression Models 11.0 software,). The first model, including separate design and supervision variables, is illustrated in Table 2. Neither jail design nor supervision type were significant predictors of suicide. The actual amount of time that officers spent in the inmate living areas was statistically significant but indicated little change in the likelihood of suicide. Transience (measured as the number of bookings divided by the jails rated capacities) and officer/inmate ratio were not found to affect the likelihood of suicide. As was expected, inmate count had a statistically significant effect (p < .05) on suicide. The percentage of males housed in the jails was also significant. However, the odds ratios for these variables indicate little change in the likelihood of suicides in the participating jails (Mertler & Vannatta, 2002). The percentage of younger inmates and percentage of pretrial detainees were not associated with suicides. The model correctly classified 78.5% of the cases. The results illustrated in the second model with the design and supervision interactions variables are similar to those found in the previous model (Table 3). Design and supervision were combined this time, but the results were still not significant. As with the previous model, the number of inmates residing in a facility, the time that officers spent circulating throughout the inmate living areas, and the percentage of males residing in the institutions were the significant predictors of whether jails reported experiencing at least one inmate suicide during 1998. Again, the odds ratios for these variables

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TABLE 3 Logistic Regression Model With Interaction Variables SE Linear Indirect Supervision .849 .520 Podular Indirect Supervision .975 .534 Inmate count .002** .001 Officer/inmate ratio .032 .608 Rate of bookings .251 .392 Percent of shift circulating in living areas .014* .006 Percent males .035* .015 Percent inmates ages 24 or younger .004 .010 Percent pretrial inmates .012 .008 Constant 1.686 1.596 2 log likelihood = 206.466

Oddsa
1.002 0.987 0.965

NOTE: a. Odds ratios are presented only for independent variables that have a statistically significant effect (p < .05) on the dependent variable. *p = .05. **p = .01.

indicated a rather weak change in the likelihood of suicides. The model also correctly classified 78.5% of the cases.

DISCUSSION

This is the first national study of the effectiveness of different jail designs and supervision strategies in preventing suicide. Previous studies have involved either a single jail that was moving from a linear, intermittent design to podular, direct supervision design or a cross-sectional analysis of a few jails with different designs (see Bayens et al., 1997a, 1997b; Farbstein & Wener, 1989; Nelson, 1983; Nelson & Davis, 1995; Senese, Wilson, Evans, Aguirre, & Kalinich, 1992; Williams, Rodeheaver, & Huggins, 1999; Zupan & Menke, 1988; Zupan & Stohr-Gillmore, 1988). What is noteworthy about those past evaluations is that the new generation jails included in those studies adhered to many of the aspects of the original, podular, direct supervision jails that were built by the Federal BOP. For example, all of the jails contained normalized living environments with comfortable furnishings. The jails also required extensive communication-skills training for all officers. As was mentioned, new generation jail researchers emphasized the importance of these factors in their writings. A previous analysis of these data (Tartaro, 2002) revealed that many jails that identified themselves as being podular,

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direct supervision did not make the recommended adjustments to their living environments, nor did they require enough hours of communicationskills training. This could explain the findings of no significant relationship between design and supervision and suicide. Some other theoretically relevant variables were not found to be significant predictors of suicide. Transience, at least in the manner in which it was operationalized for this study, was not associated with suicide, nor was the officer/inmate ratio. It was expected that jails with more officers per inmate would have fewer suicides, as this could enhance supervision. Another supervision variable, however, was associated with suicides. The percentage of time the shift officers spent circulating throughout the inmate living areas was related to suicides, but the odds ratios revealed that this actually had little impact on the likelihood of suicides. As for the jail-level inmate variables, only the percentage of males housed in the facilities was significant. This variable also had little impact on the likelihood of suicides. This study is noteworthy because of the absence of significant relationships in the logistic regression models. Partial implementation of programs is a problem that affects every aspect of the criminal justice system. Decision makers often want to adopt a successful program but are concerned about some of the more expensive or controversial aspects of it. As a compromise, only part of the original model is adopted, and this could lead to failure. For example, those in the legislature and in the general public rarely look favorably upon installing comfortable furnishings for inmates. They may also decide to decline to fund the amount of training that is actually needed for officers to be effective. It needs to be understood that the new generation jail model will not be successful unless all aspects of it are properly implemented. Otherwise, there will be no differential impact on suicide prevention relative to the other designs.

LIMITATIONS

As with most jail suicide studies, the suicide statistics presented here should be considered with caution, because they likely present an underestimation of the problem. Welch and Gunther (1997) noted that official corrections reports may be altered to place correctional staff in a more favorable light. Additionally, differences of opinion about the location of a suicide (incidents often are inappropriately listed as occurring in hospitals) (Hayes, 1989) may contribute to inaccuracies. Although these data likely underestimate the problem of suicide, the author has no reason to believe that this

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problem would systematically affect one particular jail design more than another. Although the instrument also included a question about attempted suicides, these data were not presented due to possible bias. First, each jail (and sometimes each officer in the jail) defines attempted suicide differently, ranging from a suicidal gesture to an actual attempt in progress. Second, podular-designed jails might report more attempts as a result of the better sight lines that facilitate officers supervision of inmates. An additional limitation exists with regard to the measures of transience used in this study. As was noted earlier, the number of bookings is an imperfect measure of transience. The average length of stay for inmates in each jail would have captured the true rate of transience more accurately. The number of intakes, as opposed to the number of bookings at each jail, would also have been useful. Some jails book alleged offenders who are then immediately released from police custody rather than detained at the jail. Intake figures instead of booking statistics would have been a more precise measure.

NOTE

1. The author would like to thank the American Jail Association for its assistance.

REFERENCES
Atlas, R. (1987). Guidelines for reducing the liability for inmate suicide. Miami, FL: Atlas & Associates. Bayens, G. J., Williams, J. J., & Smykla, J. O. (1997a). Jail type and inmate behavior: A longitudinal analysis. Federal Probation, 61(3), 54-62. Bayens, G. J., Williams, J. J., & Smykla, J. O. (1997b). Jail type makes a difference: Evaluating the transition from a traditional to a podular, direct supervision jail across ten years. American Jails, 11(2), 32-39. Davis, M. S., & Muscat, J. E. (1993). An epidemiologic study of alcohol and suicide risk in Ohio jails and lockups, 1975-1984. Journal of Criminal Justice, 21, 277-283. Farbstein, J., & R. Wener (1989). A comparison of direct and indirect supervision correctional facilities. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections. Farmer, K. A., Felthous, A. R., & Holzer, C. E., III (1996). Medically serious suicide attempts in a jail with a suicide prevention program. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 41(2), 240-246. Harding, B. G., Linke, L., Van Court, M., White, J., & Clem, C. (2001). 2001 directory of direct supervision jails. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections. Hayes, L. M. (1989). National study of jail suicides: Seven years later. Psychiatric Quarterly, 60(1), 7-29

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