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Data Analysis Shows 'Unnatural' Deaths Increasing In U.S. State Prisons

Published: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 7:55am
Updated: Wednesday, June 9, 2021 - 8:45am

new analysis of data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows "unnatural" deaths in state prisons nationwide are increasing while the total state prison population has remained relatively steady.

The nonpartisan advocacy group Prison Policy Initiative reviewed state prison mortality data from 2001 to 2018.

Communication Strategist Wanda Bertram, says it found deaths categorized as “unnatural,” which include suicide, homicide, and drug and alcohol deaths, making up an increasing share of overall mortality.

'“There’s been a 600% rise in drug and alcohol intoxication deaths over the last 20 years," she said.

Bertram says overall mortalities have increased as well.

“Our prison population was about 1% higher in 2018 than in 2001, but the deaths were 44% larger in 2018 than in 2001," she said. "I mean that’s a huge difference.”

Bertram says state prisons saw the highest number of suicides in 2018 since the data has been recorded.

Arizona prison deaths are following the same trend. The latest mortality reports from the Department of Corrections show state prisons are on track to record more suicides this fiscal year than in any other in the past decade.

Arizona Prisons

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