Ohio prisons director Gary Mohr says he has ordered new steps to prevent inmate suicides after two high-profile cases in the state, reports the Columbus Dispatch. Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro killed himself on Sept. 3, a few weeks after condemned murderer Billy Slagle killed himself on Death Row. The Ohio prison suicide rate is 12 per 100,000 inmates, below the national average of 16 per 100,000. There have been 88 suicides in state prisons since 2000.
Prisons officials are taking new steps to prevent suicides: using “safe cells,” disposable paper uniforms, soft food and paper eating utensils for inmates on suicide watch; spot-checking video to make sure corrections officers are making rounds; training employees to be watchful for signs that inmates might be suicidal; and reviewing mental-health assessments done when inmates enter the system. Mohr hired a national expert, Lindsay M. Hayes of the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives, to come to Ohio next month to review the system.