Suicide leading cause of death in US jails: Report

Washington, Aug 5 (IANS) The number of inmates who died in US state prisons and local jails continued to increase in 2013 and peaked at 4,446 since 2007, a federal report said on Tuesday.

According to the report by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), both local jails and state prisons witnessed an increase in inmate deaths from 2012 to 2013, with the number of death increasing from 958 to 967 in local jails and 3,479 to 3,357 in state prisons.

The report found that while the number of illness-related deaths in local jails declined, the decrease was offset by a noticeable increase in unnatural causes of death, such as suicide, drug or alcohol intoxication, accident and homicide, according to Xinhua news agency.

As in every year since 2000, the report said suicide was the leading cause of death in local jails, accounting for more than a third of all jail deaths in 2013. The report found that a total of 327 jail inmates committed suicide in 2013, an increase of 12 percent compared to 2009 level.

The number of drug or alcohol intoxication deaths in local jails increased from 57 in 2012 to 70 deaths in 2013, and the number of death deriving from accidents increased from 18 to 31. Homicides caused 28 deaths, said the report, making it one of the least common causes for death in jails.

Meanwhile, the report found that in 2013, about 90 percent of deaths in state prisons were related to an illness, six percent were suicides and three percent were homicides.

Calculated together, cancer (31 percent) and heart disease (26 percent) accounted for about half of all illness-related deaths in prisons, said the report.

Every state department of corrections reported at least one prisoner death in 2013. Nearly a quarter of those prisoner deaths occurred in Texas and California. White inmates accounted for more than half of the deaths, and nearly all were male.

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