Since Sandra Bland, over 810 deaths in United States jails

Sandra Bland, photo by Ashley Anderson

From The Huffington Post in the USA:

HuffPost Highline Special Report: 810 People Have Died In Jail Since Sandra Bland

One year since Sandra Bland: We built a database of jail deaths because the government wouldn’t.

Sandra Bland Died One Year Ago Today

And since then, at least 810 people have lost their lives in jail.

Story by Dana Liebelson & Ryan J. Reilly

July 13, 2016

Over the past year, there have been so many stories of violence and injustice in America, and even the most well-known deserve to be revisited. This is one: Last July, Sandra Bland was pulled over by a Texas state trooper for, he said, failing to signal when she changed lanes. After the 28-year-old questioned his instruction to put out her cigarette and refused to get out of the car, the trooper arrested her for assault of an officer. Bland didn’t have enough money for the $500 bail bondsman’s fee, and so she was held in jail. Within 65 hours of her arrest, she was dead. …

What made Bland’s death so shocking—the reason that millions of people watched the dash-cam footage of her arrest or closely examined her mugshot—was the mystery at its heart. What had really happened inside the Waller County jail? …

Deaths inside American jails frequently go unnoticed, sometimes even unrecorded. Unlike prisons, jails hold people for only short periods—about 21 days on average—and many of their inmates have not been convicted of a crime. Additionally, jails typically aren’t required to release public information about people who die within their walls. The federal government publishes only generalized data years after deaths occur, making it nearly impossible to identify the most dangerous facilities. So we attempted to fill the gap.

Huffington Post reporters collected the names of people who have died in jail since the day of Bland’s death: July 13, 2015. We scoured news reports and press releases, gathered official records, searched court dockets, filed public records requests, and contacted more than 100 agencies. When news stories omitted details such as the date of arrest or official cause of death, our reporters tried to obtain that information, either directly from the jail or from the office of the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy. Not every agency that we contacted responded, and our database remains incomplete. It will be updated as we receive outstanding record requests and information from the public.

We found evidence of 811 fatalities—an average of more than two per day. (By way of comparison, 178 unarmed people were killed by police during the same period, according to The Guardian.) And like so much else in this realm, the burden is not borne equally. Black people are more likely to die in jail because they are more likely to be arrested than any other racial group, for reasons that have as much to do with double standards in the justice system and historic oppression as they do with crime. African-Americans make up 13 percent of the U.S. population and, on average, 32 percent of people who died in jail between 2000 and 2013, according to federal data.

Click here to see our database of jail fatalities.

How many people are dying in jail? This question came up for Dana Liebelson and Ryan G. Reilly, Huffington Post reporters who cover civil rights and criminal justice, after Sandra Bland took her life in jail last summer. It’s a simple question, but almost impossible to answer for a number of reasons. No public entity requires jails to release information about who dies in their custody, and the federal government only publishes general data, often years after incidents happen, making it all but impossible to identify which facilities are dangerous. But that didn’t stop Liebelson and Reilly from digging in. Who else was dying in jail? How many and why? Read more here.

Black GOP Senator Talks About Being Pulled Over By Police 7 Times In One Year: here.

According to statistics made available by the University of Texas at Austin, nearly 7,000 people have died in police custody or in prison in Texas since 2005. The information is contained in an online database published by the school’s Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis (IUPRA): here.

Protests have taken place in Liverpool, England, following the death of 18-year-old Mzee Mohammed. The teenager died July 13 after being detained by police: here.

Inhabitants of Beaumont-sur-Oise, near Paris, clashed with security forces on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, amid rising anger over the death of Adama Traoré in police custody on Tuesday: here.

10 thoughts on “Since Sandra Bland, over 810 deaths in United States jails

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