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A Spate of Custodial Deaths has One State Proposing Jail Reform – Part 12

One jail came under scrutiny after a probe revealed that its rate of custodial death, at 3.5 deaths per 1,000 inmates in ten years, is more than double the nationwide average. The government found that the jail, which has a 900-bed capacity, violated prisoners’ rights by failing to provide adequate mental health care and medical care. The jail entered into an agreement with regional authorities with the goal of improving the treatment of inmates. After the agreement was made, the number of inmate deaths at the jail dropped. The following factors led to improvement:

  • Increased staffing
  • Enhanced training
  • Improved medical services

Records show that the number of fatalities at the jail has, so far, been cut in half.

A major issue that emerged during this nationwide study of custodial deaths has to do with the collection of accurate data. There is no federal system in place that would help with gaps in data. Reporting standards vary from state to state.

Another matter of great significance that has an impact on the number of custodial deaths is funding. Many jails are overcrowded, understaffed, and lack adequate funding.  

In the next segment, learn about the custodial death of a man with mental health issues who was arrested on a misdemeanor charge.

See Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and this ongoing series.

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