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Author:  Staff Editors.

Source: Volume 18, Number 05, July/August 2017 , pp.69-84(16)

Correctional Health Care Report

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The Bureau of Justice Statistics has released mortality data for 2014 and the Centers for Disease Control has published its mortality data for the same period. As in previous years, jail and prison inmates experience lower mortality rates than the general public (see tables beginning on page 71), even adjusted for age (prisoners typically fall into the young-to-middle aged adult cohorts having the lowest mortality rates). While a heightened level of supervision may contribute to lower mortality rates from disease in prisons and jails, it does not appear to achieve the same benefits when it comes to suicide, the leading killer of jail inmates and a growing problem in prisons. The suicide rate in jails reached a new, alarming high in 2014: 50 deaths per 100,000 ADP, 35.3% of all jail inmate deaths. Prison suicides were 20 deaths per 100,000, a jump of 45% over the ten-year average of 13.8. Meanwhile, the general population suicide rate in 2014 was 13.4 per 100,000, a 4.1% increase over 2013.1 In spite of the sharp spike in prison suicide rates in 2014, the overall suicide rate among prison inmates is similar to the rate experienced in the general population when one adjusts for age. The jail rate, however, has been and continues to be a grave concern. Jail suicides are largely preventable—they represent a failure to properly screen for risk, monitor, and act promptly and decisively. Prompted by these new mortality figures, this issue of Correctional Health Care Report devotes special coverage to intake screening and suicide.

Keywords: Custodial suicide; mortality rates; intake screening

Affiliations:  1: Correctional Health Care Report.

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