Suicide, long the leading cause of death in U.S. jails, hit a high of 50 deaths for every 100,000 inmates in 2014, the last year for government data. That’s 2 1/2 times the rate of suicides in state prisons and about 3 1/2 times that of the general population.
It’s a problem commonly blamed on the fact that more mentally ill people are landing behind bars. But increasingly, troubling questions are being raised about the treatment of inmates, possible patterns of neglect and whether better care could have stopped suicides.
An Associated Press/Capital News Service report finds that scores of jails have been sued or investigated for allegedly refusing inmates medication, ignoring cries for help or failing to monitor them despite warnings they might harm themselves.