Do Jails Kill People?

February 25, 2019

(New Yorker) – Every year, several thousand people across the country die while imprisoned. Local officials report the number of deaths to the Department of Justice, but very little attention is paid to the question of how many of these deaths could have been prevented. Several years ago, Homer Venters, a physician and the former chief medical officer for New York City’s Correctional Health Services, sought to answer this question. Between 2010 and 2016, there were a hundred and twelve deaths in New York City jails. Venters and his team found that ten to twenty per cent of those deaths each year were “caused by actions taken inside the walls” of a jail. He calls these “jail-attributable deaths,” and writes that some years the percentage of such deaths “rose to half or more.”

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