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7 in 10 inmates who die in jail have not been convicted of a crime


As the investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland’s death in a Texas jail cell continues, a Department of Justice report (PDF) on jail deaths in America provides shocking broader context: Some 73 percent (698 out of 958 total deaths in 2012) of prisoners who die in jail have not been convicted of anything.

Exorbitant bail rates for relatively minor crimes, an issue brought into sharp relief by the 2015 suicide of Kalief Browder, is a primary reason for often lengthy pre-trial detentions during which these deaths occurred. Deaths were most common among older inmates, particularly in the 45-54 age group, and 29 percent of people who died in jail were black, more than twice the national population ratio of African-Americans.

For more on this topic, read The Week‘s Ryan Cooper on “the national horror of jail suicides,” which accounted for 31.3 percent of jail deaths in 2012. Bonnie Kristian