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Responding to jail deaths: Initial steps

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"Jail administrators and correctional officers have an obligation to do everything they can to prevent in-custody deaths." Excellent recommendations in this important piece published by Correctionsone.com about how to respond to deaths in jails: (1) Treat the death like a crime scene; (2) Preserve all digital evidence and (3) Launch an administrative review in addition to a criminal investigation.

Jail deaths are simply a reality. Even in correctional facilities where inmates often receive better care than they do in their communities, administrators can’t prevent all deaths from illness, disease, age or other natural causes.

Sometimes, of course, the cause is more troubling. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports that every year since 2000, suicide has been the leading cause of death in local jails (in prisons, more inmates die of natural causes, likely reflecting the longer incarceration periods). In 2013, over a third of all deaths in jails were suicides.

In part because of the rising rate of in-custody suicides, scrutiny of jail deaths is increasing. Following the suicide of Sandra Bland in the Waller County Jail, the Texas legislature passed a host of new requirements aimed at preventing and responding to suicides and other in-custody deaths. A key provision of the legislation requires that independent law enforcement agencies will investigate jail deaths. While not all states have such laws, the legislation passed in Texas, as in other states recently, underscores the necessity of responding quickly, thoroughly and professionally to all deaths that happen in your jail.


Bryant, L. 08/20/2019 Responding to jail deaths: Initial stepsCorrectionsOne.

Category: In The News |

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