Record high jail deaths with a spike in drug deaths and deaths among women

Drug- and alcohol-related deaths in jails rose a staggering 381% since 2000, according to a new analysis from The Prison Policy Institute.

We go to the Prison Policy Initiative for this week’s report, “Rise in jail deaths is especially troubling as jail populations become more rural and more female” by Leah Wang.

  • Suicide is the number one cause of death for people in jail, accounting for 30% of deaths.

  • People in jail are three times as likely to die from suicide as the general U.S. population.

  • Deaths in jail from intoxication have increased by 381% since 2000.

  • The median time served before an overdose from drug or alcohol intoxication was one day.

·  A sixth of all deaths in jail were women in 2018; higher than their percentage of the total jail population.

  • Women had a seven percent higher mortality rate than men in jails.

  • Small jails had the highest mortality rate again in 2018; rates in these jails are often double the overall jail mortality rate.

  • Women in rural county jails increased by 43%.

  • Women in urban county jails decreased by 6%.

  • Women incarcerated in rural jails are more likely to have a co-morbid mental illness and substance abuse disorder.

The Prison Policy Initiative notes that jails are not held to a national standard for healthcare. Rural jails often use a private healthcare company, leading to neglect and endangerment for incarcerated people. 

Read the whole report here.

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