October 10, 2008
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION-REPORTING OF INMATE ASSAULTS
By: George Coppolo, Chief Attorney
You asked about the procedure for reporting inmate assaults of Department of Correction employees and other inmates.
The law requires the Department of Correction (DOC) commissioner to submit reports of quarterly data to the governor and Judiciary and Labor committees on the number of reported inmate assaults on custodial staff and inmate assaults on other inmates. The law does not specify how DOC must gather this data. DOC Administrative Directive 6.6 governs how DOC documents and investigates assaults.
Under this directive, an assault by an inmate against a DOC employee requires the filing of an Incident Report by the employee who first witnesses or first reports the incident. All employees who respond to and witness an incident may also be required to submit a supplemental incident report regarding the employee's actions and observations. Typically, it is the DOC employee who was the assault victim who files this report.
The incident report includes a narrative of what occurred. The shift supervisor reviews the report, conducts an investigation by interviewing the victim and other witnesses, and then fills out a form called the Summary of Assault on Staff. This form requires the shift supervisor to choose options on the form relating to the type of assault, the use of a weapon, and the medical care that was required. Each option the shift supervisor selects has a point value attached to it. If the point total is four or higher, the assault is classified as a Level 1 assault; if it has fewer than four points, it is a Level 2 assault. Whether an assault is a Level 1 or 2 assault can affect to some degree the inmate's punishment administered by DOC under its disciplinary code but any assault on a DOC employee is classified as the most serious type of offense under the code.
Other required forms include the Medical Incident Report, Incident Summary Report, and Disciplinary Report.
An assault by an inmate on another inmate also requires the filing of each of these reports other than the Summary of Assault on Staff form. Thus, assaults of inmates on inmates are not classified by level.
The law requires the DOC commissioner to submit reports of quarterly data to the governor and Judiciary and Labor committees on the number of reported inmate assaults on custodial staff and inmate assaults on other inmates. The commissioner uses the system in Directive 6.6 to generate this data.
DOCUMENTING, INVESTIGATING, AND CLASSIFYING ASSAULTS
The General Statutes do not establish rules DOC must follow internally when they document, investigate, or classify assaults. Rather, the law confers broad authority and responsibilities on the commissioner. For example, the law requires the DOC commissioner to administer, coordinate, and control DOC's operations and be responsible for the overall supervision and direction of all DOC institutions, facilities, and activities. The commissioner must establish rules for administrative practices and custodial and rehabilitative methods in accordance with recognized correctional standards. The commissioner is also responsible for establishing disciplinary programs (CGS § 18-81).
Pursuant to this general authority, the commissioner has established numerous administrative directives including an incident reporting administrative directive (Directive 6.6), which became effective October 1, 2005. This directive establishes the procedures that must be followed when certain incidents occur, including assaults by inmates on staff and on other inmates (http://www.ct.gov/doc/LIB/doc/PDF/AD/ad0606.pdf).
Administrative Directive 6.6 establishes three classes of incidents-Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Class 1 is the most serious; class 3 the least serious (AD 6.6-3). The main purpose of classifying incidents appears to be the nature of the notification that must be provided. The directive has more extensive notification procedures for Class 1 than it does for Class 2 and more for Class 2 than for Class 3. For example, a Class 1 incident can result in the use of the community alert system while the other two classes cannot.
Class 1 Incidents
Class 1 incidents cover numerous types of incidents such as a riot; hostage situation; major fire; bomb threat; the death of on-duty employee, visitor, or volunteer; an untimely death of an inmate; and an injury to an on-duty employee, inmate, visitor, or volunteer that results in admission to an acute-care hospital.
Regarding assaults, Class 1 incidents include any inmate assault on a DOC employee that is classified as a Level 1 assault in accordance with DOC form CN 6603, Summary of Assault on Staff (AD 6.6-4(F)).
Class 2 incidents also cover a wide range of conduct but regarding assaults, they explicitly include any inmate assault on a DOC employee classified as a Level 2 assault in accordance with CN 6603, Summary of Assault on Staff (AD 6.6-5(A)).
Class 3 incidents also cover many types of conduct but regarding assaults, they explicitly include an inmate on inmate fight, assault, or minor disruption (AD 6.6-6(A)).
CLASSIFICATION OF INMATE ASSAULTS BY LEVEL 1 OR LEVEL 2
Inmate assaults of DOC employees are classified by either Level 1 or Level 2. This classification is determined by a point system contained in DOC form CN 6603, Summary of Assault on Staff. The supervisor of the shift on which the assault occurred fills out this form and makes the determination as to whether it was a Level 1 or Level 2 assault. The shift
supervisor makes this determination based on the incident report and the investigation he or she conducts (DOC form CN 6601/1). The investigation can involve interviewing witnesses and reviewing any video evidence that may be available.
The DOC employee who first witnesses or first reports the incident files the Incident Report. All employees who respond to and witness an incident may also be required to submit a supplemental incident report regarding the employee's actions and observations. Typically, it is the DOC employee who was the assault victim who files this report, but it also could be the shift supervisor if the victim is unable to do so because of injuries.
Point System to Classify Assaults
The point system to classify an assault as either a Level 1 or a Level 2 assault established in DOC form CN 6603, Summary of Assault on Staff, uses a scoring system to determine how severe an assault was. Assaults scoring four or more points are classified as Level 1. Assaults scoring fewer than four points are classified as Level 2.
Form CN 6603 has three sections for determining whether an assault is a Level 1 or a Level 2. They are “type of assault,” “weapon used,” and “medical treatment required.” Each section presents choices for the person filling it out.
Type of Assault. The “type of assault” section has two options. One is for an “intentional/direct attack” on a DOC staff member. This is given one point. The second type of assault is called “accidental/indirect/incidental” and is given 0 points. The form does not define either option but it gives the following examples for: “accidental/indirect/incidental:”
● “part of another incident, such as inmate fight,”
● “hitting a hand away,” or
● walking past an extended arm.
Weapon Involvement. The form's “weapon involvement” section gives the shift supervisor three options to choose from. The first is “actual homemade weapon used against staff.” It gives two examples: knife and club. This option is worth two points. The second option is “non-lethal object used as weapon.” It gives as an example a bodily fluid substance. This option is worth one point. The third option under this section is “no weapon.” This option is worth zero points.
Medical Treatment. The “medical treatment required” section has four options to choose from. The first is “outside hospital, inpatient admission.” This is worth three points. The second option is “outside hospital or outpatient emergency treatment.” This is worth two points. The third option is “on-site treatment or personal physician.” This is given one point. The final option is “none.” This is given zero points.
Point Total. The shift supervisor completing the form then adds the points together to arrive at a total. A point total of one to three is a Level 2 assault. A point total of four or more is a Level 1 assault.
Examples of Assaults
Based on the scoring system, following are a few hypothetical examples of how the point system appears to work.
1. An officer is punched by an inmate but the officer does not need or receive any medical treatment. Because it is an intentional assault it would be given one point. But because no weapon or object was used and the officer required no treatment, no additional points would be awarded. Thus, it would be given a total of one point and be classified as a Level 2 assault.
● If the officer were treated on site it would be one additional point resulting in a total of two points, which would still make the assault a Class 2.
● If the officer went to an emergency room for treatment, it would be an additional two points. Once again, this would seem to be a Class 2 assault because it would have a total of three points. (It is not clear whether an officer who received treatment on site and at an emergency room would result in an additional three points (one for on-site treatment and one for emergency room treatment) or whether the emergency room treatment would be counted only).
● If the officer was admitted to a hospital, it would be at least four points, a Class 1 assault –one point for an intentional assault and three for a hospital admission.
2. An officer is assaulted with an inmate's bodily fluid. Because the assault was intentional, it would be given one point and because bodily fluid was used the assault would be given an additional two points. If the officer received any treatment on site or went to the emergency room for treatment and tests, the point total would be either four or five and thus, would be classified as a Level 1 assault. If no treatment were given, the point total would be three and the assault would be classified as a Class 2. (It appears that DOC has established protocols and procedures for dealing with employees who have been exposed to potentially infectious bodily fluids. This requires sending the employee to the nearest available DOC Health Care Unit for medical assessment and treatment if needed or, if such a unit is not accessible, to the nearest hospital. Thus, it appears that medical treatment of some kind is always provided if an employee comes in contact with an inmate's bodily fluids.)
3. An officer is assaulted with a homemade knife and is treated at the scene. The assault would be given one point for being intentional, two points for the use of a knife, and one point for the on-site medical treatment given. This totals four points and thus would be classified as a Level 1 assault.
LOGBOOKS AND INCIDENT REPORT NUMBERING SYSTEM
A unique identification is assigned to each incident report for tracking, filing, and retrieval purposes. The identification is recorded in a master incident report log in sequential order in accordance with Administrative Directive 6.2, Facility Post Orders and Logs. The identification format is as follows: CRCC-2005-01-001 (i.e., facility initials - calendar year (four digit) - month (01 through 12) - sequence number (001 through 999))(DA 6.6-8). (AD 6.2 is available at http://www.ct.gov/doc/LIB/doc/PDF/AD/ad0602.pdf.)
INCIDENT REPORT PACKAGE
All incidents must require the completion of an Incident Report (form CN 6601) to document all activity and subsequent actions. All reports relevant to an incident must be collected and assembled in the Incident Report Package. The following must be included in the Incident Report Package whenever applicable.
1. The CN 6601, Incident Report, must be prepared by the employee who first witnesses or first reports the incident. All employees who respond to and witness an incident may be required to submit a supplemental incident report regarding the employee's actions and observations.
2. The CN 6602, Medical Incident Report, must be submitted by medical personnel who examine the parties involved for injuries resulting from an incident. It must be signed by the inmate except in those occasions when the inmate is not physically able to, the inmate's behavior prevents signature (i.e., combative), or the inmate refuses to sign. When it is not signed by the inmate, Health Services personnel must indicate the reason for the lack of inmate signature in the patient signature field.
3. The CN 6603, Summary of Assault on Staff form.
4. The CN 6604, Incident Summary Report, must be completed for all class 1, 2, and 3A incidents and forwarded to the district administrator the next business day.
5. The CN 6605, Incident Report Package List of Contents, must be completed.
6. The CN 6501, Use of Force Report, and a CN 6502, Chemical Agent Use Report, in accordance with Administrative Directive 6.5 on the use of force.
7. CN 6901, Physical Evidence Tag and Chain of Custody, in accordance with Administrative Directive 6.9 on control of contraband and physical evidence.
8. A copy of CN 9401, Restrictive Housing Unit Status Order, in accordance with Administrative Directive 9.4 on restrictive status.
9. A copy of CN 9503, Disciplinary Report, in accordance with Administrative Directive 9.5 on the code of penal discipline.
10. Any photographs or video documentation.
11. Any applicable inmate information from the master file or inmate computer system.
12. Other relevant documents related to the incident or aftermath.
When a significant injury has resulted from an incident, video recordings or photographs or both must be taken of the injured person or people (AD 6.6-10).
A shift supervisor must ensure, whenever possible, that all reports are typed, completed, and signed the day an incident occurred. A shift supervisor must review all reports for completeness and accuracy. The shift commander must prepare a summary report of all submitted incident reports and draw conclusions and make recommendations on form CN 6601. The unit administrator must review and co-sign all incident report packages. The unit administrator or a designee must be responsible for maintaining a permanent log and filing system of all such reports (AD 6.6-11).
Any exception to the procedures in the administrative directive must require the commissioner's prior written approval (AD 6.6-13).