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Op-Ed: Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide was part of a much bigger crisis in U.S. jails and prisons

[ – 8/19/19]

The New York City medical examiner’s ruling that sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein killed himself in jail has prompted a lot of hand-wringing about conditions in the facility where he was held. But if the nation had been paying attention, no one would have been particularly surprised by what happened.

The United States is in the midst of a prison suicide epidemic. In 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicides accounted for about 1.6% of overall U.S. deaths. That same year, the latest for which Bureau of Justice Statistics have been released, suicides accounted for about 4% of deaths in federal prisons, about 7% of deaths in state prisons, and a whopping 35% of deaths in local jails.

Alabama, where I live, is at the center of the crisis. The state prison suicide rate here is nearly triple the national average, and there’s evidence the numbers are even worse than we know.

In 2017 and 2018, Alabama prisons reported 15 suicides during a 15-month period. Incarcerated men were found hanging from windows, cell doors, light fixtures, vents. One man jumped to his death from a second-floor cellblock. At least 30 people have killed themselves during the last five years while in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections.

The issue of suicide has been brought front and center in a landmark class-action lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program and private attorneys over the state’s prison mental healthcare, which a federal judge called “horrendously inadequate.”

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It is believed he committed suicide because a state appointed examiner said so…And they don’t have an invested interests of the Government as well as a clear and certain bias towards sex offenders ! Well…his death leaned more to homicide than suicide, ls say you were on a jury and evidence of his death was presented to you, you know circumstances, guards diddling, cameras jacked up paperwork messed with all he just so happens to end up this or that way ! Now compare how many poopsies happen on professionals shifts…you know the saying … fake heroes like to give….NOT… Read more »

Hello everyone. I thought and fretted and thought more about just how to add a level of credulity to this article. This, based on my own experience while detained and having a suicide take place on the block I was on. For me, and this is just MY view; what is saw changed my life forever. It broke me. I cried for days for the Man who chose a path of Suicide. I still many years later remember every single thing about Him. He was on the “upper tier” and allegedly in for an allegation of a *ex Offense. I… Read more »

@FinallyOffTheReg: Wow, I’m sorry he chose this path and I’m sorry you had to see it. I too saw some awful-wish-I’d-never-seen-things-in-prison too. I’ve never told anyone what I saw, no-one. I keep those haunting memories to myself. Your telling though maybe can help some I hope. For me, I hate the whole Jeffery news, controversy, stories, videos, etc…. they just make me relive what I hope to forget.

@RM Thank you for your thoughts. I agree. There are things seen while incarcerated that one cannot carry forward into the “world”. I have seen the worst and the best of people while under the Bars. I have too seen things that break my heart to this day. I have a good friend who is a notable defense attorney here in Connecticut with whom I was trying to explain the “smell” of prison. How the metal on the doors has a taint, how the laundry comes back with a particular foul odor. Nothing ever is “clean”. How I remember how… Read more »

Let’s Stop all the Non Sense !
If someone is tortured and has no Protection it is the Governments fault !
Grow up people !

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