Response to the Audit
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
July 31, 2017
Ms. Elaine M. Howle, State Auditor
California State Auditor
621 Capitol Mall, Suite 1200
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Ms. Howle:
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) submits this letter in response to the California State Auditor’s (CSA) audit titled“California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: It Must Increase Its Efforts to Prevent and Respond to Inmate Suicides.”
CDCR takes its responsibility to prevent inmate deaths by suicide very seriously and reviews each case carefully to allow it to continue to refine the suicide prevention program. Delivery of mental health services to CDCR inmates has improved overall, and CDCR continues to create a culture of focused improvement, oversight, and accountability in the area of suicide prevention both with staff and inmates. CDCR is committed to continuously evaluating and improving the performance and quality of the entire Mental Health Services Delivery System, including suicide prevention and response practices.
CDCR has made a great deal of progress implementing policies, training, and support for suicide prevention practices statewide, and acknowledges there is further progress to make. CDCR has completed or has in progress 58 initiatives, only 29 of which were recommendations from external suicide experts. For example, CDCR is nearing completion of a contract to provide substance abuse treatment specifically designed for individuals with mental health issues at the California Institution for Women (CIW) and other institutions; is developing a contract to address domestic violence for inmates in the mental health system in CDCR’s women’s institutions; has implemented the use of new suicide assessment tools and treatment protocols that reflect best practices in the field of suicidology; and provides increased mental health outreach to all inmates at CIW (including those who are not in the mental health system) by offering access to brief, solution-focused counseling.
CSA’s report on CDCR’s suicide prevention policies highlights areas where CDCR has already improved its practices, and where improvements continue to be made. CDCR will consider the recommendations made by the auditors to continue to improve upon its ongoing suicide prevention mission.
CDCR would like to thank CSA for their work on this report and will address the specific recommendations in a corrective action plan within the timelines outlined in the report. If you have further questions, please contact me at (916) 323-6001.