Concern Rises After New Data Shows Prison Death Rates Skyrocketing

Zain Murdock
June 23, 2021

New data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics is shocking: from 2001-2018, the overall prison population increased by 1%. But, within that same time period, state prison deaths have skyrocketed by 44%! Why?

The answer is “unnatural causes.” In just the past couple years, prison suicides rose by 22% – for an 85% increase since 2001. Meanwhile, drug and alcohol related deaths are up 139%! There are several explanations for how this happened.

After the suicide rate escalated 30% between 2013 and 2014, experts drew a correlation to solitary confinement and untreated mental illness. Nevertheless, prison staff are also at fault – frequently, they’re the ones smuggling in addictive drugs themselves! 

But this data is even more dangerous when we consider what state prisons are even for.

State prisons say that incarcerated people are meant to have “long-term custody, with ongoing programming, treatment, and education” for sentences ranging from one year to decades. 

But when the quality of mental health and drug addiction healthcare is lacking, and incarceration makes those situations worse, how can the prison system be fulfilling its stated purpose?

A place that's supposedly "rehabilitating" people shouldn't be what's killing them! The sooner we all recognize this, the sooner we can get rid of this system once and for all.

We have a quick favor to ask:

PushBlack is a nonprofit dedicated to raising up Black voices. We are a small team but we have an outsized impact:

  • We reach tens of millions of people with our BLACK NEWS & HISTORY STORIES every year.
  • We fight for CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM to protect our community.
  • We run VOTING CAMPAIGNS that reach over 10 million African-Americans across the country.

And as a nonprofit, we rely on small donations from subscribers like you.

With as little as $5 a month, you can help PushBlack raise up Black voices. It only takes a minute, so will you please ?

Share This Article: