What is a Padded Cell Room?

A padded cell room (or “padded cell” or “padded room”) is generally a room in a correctional facility (a jail or prison) with padding on the walls for a single occupant to prevent self-harm to a person who is inside. Many padded cell rooms will also have padding on the floors with a ceiling that is too high to reach.  Typically, as many objects get removed from the room as possible, and the ceilings are generally high so the occupant cannot touch the ceiling.

Padded cell rooms are still used today in correctional facilities to protect the inmate and/or the facility staff.  In your head, you may hold images of padded cells from psychiatric asylums many years ago, but there have been many improvements to padded cells since they were first used.

Why Use Padded Cell Rooms?

The primary intended use for padded cell rooms is for the protection of people.  While they were first used in an asylum setting around 1839 so psychiatric facilities could stop strapping people to a chair or bed for extended periods of time, they are now also an integral part in many prisons and jails. 

There are three primary reasons where you find correctional facilities using padded cell rooms.  First, when an inmate is at high risk for self-harm such as when facility staff are concerned the inmate has the intention of self-harm like the inmate has the intention of committing suicide.  Second, the rooms can be used when an inmate might unintentionally commit self-harm, like during a detox situation.  Third, when an inmate is posing a threat of bodily harm to staff or other inmates.

When an inmate is in a padded cell room, they can beat the walls, bounce around, or whatever they want, and it is unlikely that they will harm themselves or anyone else.

Are Padded Cell Rooms Used for Punishment or Discipline?

Punishment and discipline are not the intended purpose for padded cell rooms.  Some correctional facilities choose to use solitary confinement as a method of discipline, and we believe padded cell rooms from Gold Medal create a better environment for people than concrete blocks and steel doors, but we make our product with the safety of people in mind.  

We are not saying a correctional facility can’t choose a padded cell, but it is important that any correctional facility that wants to use a padded cell for discipline has a clear policy for padded cell use that adheres to local, state, and federal laws and guidelines for padded cell rooms and discipline.

The nice thing about Gold Medal Safety’s padding is that it is durable and has no seams, which means a disagreeable inmate using the padded cell room will have a difficult time damaging the padding.  If an inmate does somehow damage the padding, it is easily repaired by facility staff.

Are Padded Cell Rooms Still Necessary?

The short answer is “yes.”  A padded room is still necessary, especially when an inmate is violent, and there is no real way to subdue him or her safely, the best option is to place him or her in a padded-room for a time.  Can you imagine asking a violent inmate to kindly stop trying to punch or kick a guard so they would take a calming psychotropic drug?  Or how about this question; is it better to strap down a person who wants to commit self-harm, or allow them freedom within a room?

Padded cell rooms are just as important for the safety of correctional facility staff as they are for inmates.  It is easier and safer for correctional staff to escort someone to a padded cell than many other options when an inmate is violent.  These rooms are sometimes called “safety rooms” for a reason.

We should mention that properly setup padded cell rooms are also calming rooms.  Similar to cells, you can find padded safety rooms in healthcare facilities and even schools.  These rooms significantly reduce the amount of visual and auditory stimuli creating a naturally calming effect for many people.  The bad reputation that padded rooms sometimes get is not from the rooms themselves but due to improper use of the rooms. 

As a manufacturer of padded safety rooms, we like to see our rooms used only for their proper and intended purpose.  We know these rooms are still at times necessary as a last resort for the safety of people.  As mentioned earlier, every facility that has a padded safety room should have clear guidelines for the use of the room, proper training of the guidelines, and enforcement of those guidelines.

We hope this helps in understanding what a padded cell room is!