Report: 'Safety Failures' Led to 344 Federal Inmate Deaths

    Report: 'Safety Failures' Led to 344 Federal Inmate Deaths
    Photo: Tasos Katopodis / Stringer/Getty Images News via Getty Images

    The Facts

    • A review led by US Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz of 344 inmate deaths at US Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities in the years 2014-2021 concluded "safety failures" were to blame for the deaths caused by suicide, homicide, accident, or unknown factors.

    • The report, published on Thursday, identified the use of single cells, outdated security camera equipment, and a failure to stop drugs and weapons from entering the prisons among the safety factors to blame.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Whether it's a high-profile prisoner like Epstein or any of the rest of the general population of its facilities, the BOP is failing prisoners with mental health issues — some of which are caused by the conditions these people are forced to live in. More must be done to monitor the mental health of prisoners, who should be treated with empathy and should not see their sentences come to tragic ends.

    Narrative B

    The BOP is doing the best it can, and that's resulted in a lower rate of death by suicide in the prison system than in the US population as a whole. Nonetheless, the BOP would like to see the number of suicides reduced to as close to zero as possible, and that's why it continues to offer a full range of mental health resources to its inmates, and does its due diligence when it comes to monitoring the mental state of the incarcerated.

    Narrative C

    America's prisons are unmanageable as a whole. The BOP is short-staffed and underfunded. The mental health of inmates can hardly be the priority of authorities under such circumstances where even basic requirements may not be met adequately or regularly. With the right amount of resources, this problem could be solved.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that the US police-to-prison spending ratio will be 1.827 in 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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