I need your help. I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 16 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

But now, more than ever, we need your help to put data & compassion into the conversation.

Thank you.
—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate
Graph showing number of people who committed suicide by number of days since jail admission. Most suicides occur shortly after jail admission.

Data Source: Huffington Post, Jail Deaths Database. (Graph: Bernadette Rabuy, 2016)

This graph originally appeared in The life-threatening reality of short jail stays.

While the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 41% of jail deaths occurred within the first week of a person’s jail stay, the Huffington Post’s data goes further, to show that even a few days in jail can be life threatening. The Huffington Post found that 26% of jail suicides occurred within just three days. Studying the datasets raises urgent questions about the way that jails function such as whether jails are adequately evaluating mental health during intake, how jail staff communicates with family members of the incarcerated during periods of incarceration and when a death occurs, and whether there is appropriate oversight of the thousands of local jails in the U.S.

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