Jail-issued mattresses and blankets designed to prevent suicides have failed to meet their safety goals, as several Los Angeles County inmates have been able to fashion nooses from their bedding, reports the Los Angeles Times. In one instance, an inmate was found in his cell in the sitting position, hanging from a makeshift noose tied to the top of a bunk bed. The noose in the April 2009 suicide was made from a strip of fabric torn from a mattress cover that had been designed to guard against suicides.
Blankets specifically marketed as suicide-safe by their manufacturer and purchased by the county have been ripped and shredded, and in several instances last year were used in suicide attempts. Much of the bedding was purchased as a cheaper alternative to sturdier bedding requested by the Sheriff’s Department. The problematic blankets and mattresses remain in use as department officials say they are pushing for safer products. County jails are equipped with so-called suicide-safe blankets purchased for less than $55 each; the thicker, sturdier blankets sheriff’s officials had requested cost more than $135 each. Officials say inmates chew at the blankets’ border stitching, working them until they give and inmates can tear the material into strips for nooses.