Number of Deaths in Local Jails & Custody on the Rise

The number of people who die behind bars each year in this country is going up.  This from a report just released by the Justice Department.

The number of people who die in jail or prison has been steadily increasing since 2011.

While an inmate in a state prison typically dies of an illness, the story is very different for local jails.  There, suicide is the leading cause of death.  According to the Justice Department, that has been true since 2000.  One in three inmate deaths in a local jail was considered a suicide in 2013, far greater than the number of state prisoner deaths ruled suicides.

Locally, this issue has been in the spotlight since 18-year-old Kindra Chapman was found dead in her cell at the Homewood City jail two weeks ago.  Marsh, Rickard & Bryan represents Ms. Chapman’s family in connection with Kindra’s death.  See here.

Nationally, the death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail last month drew attention to the issue of people dying in jail.  The Bland family filed a wrongful death lawsuit this week against the state trooper who arrested her for a minor traffic stop, the sheriff’s office and two jail employees.

The Justice Department report confirms that, in local jails, the inmates who are dying have been held relatively briefly.  The typical inmate who died had been in custody for less than a week.

Source:  Washington Post, “More people are dying in custody.  And more people are committing suicide in local jails”.  //www.washingtonpost/news/post-nation/wp/2015/08/04

Update:  The Justice Department just announced an agreement with Los Angeles County for “historic” reforms of its jails to protect mentally ill inmates from suicide and excessive force at the hands of jailers. Read more here.

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