The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

October 28, 2010
BJS releases prison/jail/arrest mortality stats

The Bee today reported the death of a man shot by Sacramento police after he charged them with a knife. By coincidence, the Bureau of Justice Statistics just updated its "deaths in custody" statistics. These cover "mortality in state prisons, local jails, and during the process of arrest by state and local law enforcement officers". The data is sliced by such factors as gender, race, age, offense and cause of death.

Nationally, there have been 2,686 arrest-related deaths between the years 2003 and 2006. Of these, 1,540 (57.3 percent) were killings by law enforcement officers and 289 (10.8 percent) were suicides. California lead the states in the overall number of arrest-related deaths (465).

Mortality in U.S. state prisons totalled 21,936 deaths between 2001 and 2007 (all causes). Illness accounted for 18,193 of the fatalities, homicide caused only 365. California trailed Texas in the overall number of prison deaths (2,491 to 2,811).

Local jail deaths totalled 8,097 in the United States between 2000 and 2007. Of these, illness caused 3,871 fatalities, suicide 2,361. According to the BLS, there were 2,851 deaths in the 50 largest jail jurisdictions. Los Angeles lead all counties with 273 deaths (178 per 1000,000 inmates). Sacramento County had 50 (170 per 100,000 inmates).

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Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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