Volume 48, Issue 5 (September 2003)
Suicidal Hangings in Jail Using Telephone Cords
In a three month period of 2000, three suicide hanging deaths involving the use of telephone cords occurred in Texas jails and were autopsied at the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas. In each case, the telephone was located within the cell, allowing the prisoners unhindered access at any time. Because of these incidents, two of the jails shortened their receiver cords to a total length of 6-8 in. The telephones were otherwise unaltered, and are still in the same locations. The third jail replaced their entire phone with a cordless telephone. Despite the attention that these cases received, standards have not been set regarding the type or placement of telephones used within jail cells, and a fourth incident in 2002 underscores this ongoing problem. These three incidents highlight the need to provide telephones that, if placed within holding cells or other jail cells, do not provide a possible means of suicide.