Revised Facility Regulations Move Toward Best Practices

SACRAMENTO (Nov. 18, 2021) – The Board of State and Community Corrections today approved changes to the regulations governing the operations of local detention facilities – including a prohibition on carotid holds, updated terminology on gender identity and improvement of suicide prevention requirements. The changes follow the Governor’s directive to align regulations with national best practices.

With the vote, the revised revisions to the Titles 15 and 24 Regulations for Adult Detention Facilities (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 15, §§ 1000-1282) will go respectively to the Office of Administrative Law and the Building Standards Commission for public comment, adoption, and implementation. Title 15 regulations govern the operation of detention facilities, and Title 24 regulates construction standards.

“I appreciate the process, and the work that produced significant and meaningful changes,” said Board Chair Linda Penner.

The BSCC is required to review the regulations biennially, a process that was delayed due to logistics surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic.

In late 2019 the Board authorized an executive steering committee composed of members of law enforcement, justice advocates and people with subject-matter expertise to begin the review and revision process.

The revision process was performed at publicly held meetings and feedback was encouraged. Deadlines for comment were extended multiple times to ensure an inclusive process.

Highlights of the Title 15 changes include:

  • Replacing outdated and inappropriate terminology with gender-inclusive and people-centered language, such as “person” rather than “inmate.”
  • Prohibiting the use of carotid holds.
  • Prohibiting the disciplinary diet, a loaf that could be consumed without utensils.
  • Expanding requirements for safety checks to ensure that they are random and varied, that a supervisor conducts a documented review of completed safety checks and recognizes more frequent safety checks for high-risk situations.
  • Aligning suicide prevention requirements with best practices, including that facility policy and procedures reflect best practices, that people receive suicide prevention screening in special circumstances, such as a return from court, follow-up after a suicide attempt, and ensuring the least restrictive housing placement for people who may be experiencing suicidal ideation.
  • Updating regulations for high-risk regulations such as safety cell and restraints to include best practices and a recognition that the least-restrictive methods should be used for people being placed in these situations.
  • Defining “out of cell time” and increasing the amount of time people must spend outside their cells from three hours over a period of seven days to 10 hours and specifying that some of this time must be used for exercise.
  • Requiring facilities to provide appropriate telecommunications devices for people with hearing or speech impairment.
  • Providing clothing and mattresses that are clean, free of stains, holes, and tears.

With OAL approval, the regulations would become effective on July 1, 2022.

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