Safety and Security Procedures
Typically, custody staffing consists of two correctional officers. If appropriate, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) watch commander may increase coverage. One officer is armed with a firearm at all times. The armed officer maintains a safe distance from the patient, ensuring the weapon is not easily accessible.
The armed officer inspects the hallways prior to moving the patient to ensure it is safe to proceed. Officers must be mindful of health care facility staff and the public. Both officers make every attempt to move the patient within the facility with the least amount of disruption and attention. When escorting patients, the armed officer generally walks two steps behind and to the left of the patient. This allows the officer to observe the patient and the surrounding area for potential problems. The unarmed officer walks beside the patient. This provides officers with a tactical advantage should the inmate try to attempt a violent act or escape.
When health care providers or staff is providing medical services to the patient, the unarmed officer is responsible for providing security. The unarmed officer does not leave the patient except under the following circumstances:
- During certain medical procedures, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs). In these situations, the officer stays in an adjacent room where visual supervision of the patient is maintained.
- During examinations of a personal nature or in the delivery room, the office positions himself to provide adequate observation of what is happening to the patient for documentary purposes and personal safety reasons, including the safety of health care staff.
All patients are escorted with a minimum of leg restraints. Waist chains may be used if a need has been established, such as unusually high public safety risk level or medical procedure. In the event a patient does not have any lower appendages, officers secure an upper limb to a sturdy portion of a mobile bed. If health care staff request restraints be removed, the CDCR institution’s health care access lieutenant or watch commander must be contacted for approval.
Correctional officers observe the interaction and conduct between patient and health care facility providers and staff. Officers ensure that inmates treat, and are treated by, health care facility providers and staff with dignity and respect. Officers also ensure no inappropriate, unprofessional interaction or misconduct with the patient occurs.
Patients are allowed to send and receive mail in conjunction with health care facility mailroom procedures. All mail is thoroughly inspected by the correctional officers prior to sending and receiving. Outgoing mail is inspected for proper institutional return address, postage and safety and security breaches. Health care providers and staff may not circumvent mail procedures and mail letters for patients. Any requests made by patients regarding mail are immediately reported to the assigned officers.
Patients are typically not permitted to use the phone at any offsite facility. If the patient is in critical condition, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institution may approve a phone call from immediate family members.
After services have been provided, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) determines the manner in which a patient, medical parolee or Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) youth is transported back to the CDCR institutions or transferred to other health care facilities. Unless it is an emergency, providers must not transfer the patient, medical parolee or DJJ youth without prior written authorization from the CDCR institution’s chief executive officer/chief medical executive (CEO/CME), parole agent, or DJJ facility chief medical officer (FCMO), or his or her designee.
At the beginning of and during each health care facility shift, correctional officers are responsible for searching patient rooms for security concerns. Officers must:
- Conduct a search and inspect each patient, ensuring the patient is in the correct room.
- Conduct a search of the patient’s room ensuring there is no contraband, needles, scalpels, cellular phones, and surplus clothing. On admission to the facility, all of the patient’s personal property is collected and relinquished to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institution’s transportation team.
- Conduct a visual and physical inspection of the restraint equipment on each patient ensuring it is properly secured to the patient and bed/gurney. Visually inspect the area of the patient where the restraints are contacting the limb for signs of skin irritation. If necessary, to reduce discomfort, it is permissible to wrap a small piece of cloth around the area of the limb where the restraints are affixed.
Correctional officers provide security coverage for all health care facility providers and staff who enter a patient’s room.
Any time anyone is in close physical proximity to the patient, the unarmed officer enters the room and positions himself where he is best able to restrain the patient and protect staff, if necessary. Due to certain court mandates, institutional operational procedures and individual patient risk level criteria, officers may require health care facility providers and staff to identify themselves to meet documentation requirements. Providers and staff must not take this personally or perceive it as paranoia or suspiciousness. The officer’s primary responsibility is to protect the public, which includes health care providers and staff.
Officers also enter isolation rooms with all facility staff. When appropriate, the officers must wear all required universal precaution equipment, such as masks and gloves. In addition, officers must inspect all food trays prior to delivery to the patient.
Patients are not allowed visitors at any facility outside the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) institution. The only exception is visits to critical or terminally ill patients. In this instance, the visitor:
- Must be an immediate family member.
- Must have a valid form of identification (ID).
- Must follow all facility regulations and visiting procedures and follow all infectious disease precaution procedures.
- Must have the approval of the facility administrator or attending physician.
Only two visitors are allowed to visit at one time and only at 30-minute intervals. Property, such as purses and diaper bags are not allowed in the room while visiting. Officers must inform visitors they are responsible for their personal property.