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?