Posted by on September 20, 2022 5:43 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Government failed to record hundreds of prison deaths: Senate report

Idaho State Penitentiary. (iStock)

Government failed to record hundreds of prison deaths: Senate report

Brady Knox September 20, 05:32 PMSeptember 20, 05:32 PM

The U.S. Department of Justice failed to record the deaths of nearly 1,000 inmates in U.S. jails and prisons properly, an investigation by a Senate committee found.

The Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-GA) as part of the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, found that 990 deaths in jails or prisons went unreported in 2021 alone, according to NBC News. The failure is a direct violation of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013, and states that fail to uphold this law could see the cutting of 10% of their funding for law enforcement. The committee found that all the deaths discovered were easily found on public databases, calling into question how the DOJ could have committed such neglect.

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“What the United States is allowing to happen on our watch in prisons, jails, and detention centers nationwide is a moral disgrace,” Ossoff said.

Data for prison deaths could help lawmakers discover outlier facilities that may pose a risk to the safety of inmates, as well as learning what steps to take in order to prevent further unnecessary deaths.

Glaringly, the report found that from October to December 2019, the DOJ failed to record any prison deaths in the District of Columbia or 12 other states.

Of the deaths that were recorded, the given information was often sloppy or incomplete, investigators found. Of the records that were supplied to the DOJ, 70% had at least one field missing.

“DOJ’s failure to implement DCRA has deprived Congress and the American public of information about who is dying in custody and why,” the report says, according to NBC News. “This information is critical to improve transparency in prisons and jails, identifying trends in custodial deaths that may warrant corrective action — such as failure to provide adequate medical care, mental health services, or safeguard prisoners from violence — and identifying specific facilities with outlying death rates.”


Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), the committee’s ranking member, described the findings as “bureaucratic B.S. if you ask me, but it happened. It doesn’t look like the Department of Justice is particularly interested in providing that transparency now.”

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