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Suicides Spiked Nationwide in Prisons, Jails During Pandemic

Suicides in prisons and jails across the U.S. have risen sharply over the past two years, driven by the increased isolation of inmates during the pandemic, more abuse of drugs, including fentanyl and staff shortages, reports Kris Maher and Dan Frosch for the Wall Street Journal.

The Texas prison system saw 61 inmates take their own lives in 2021, the most in two decades, while Louisiana lost 13 of its state inmates to suicide from January 2021 through the beginning of October, more than triple the number during the prior three years combined. Local jails have seen a similar rise. While officials in several states said they are making extensive efforts to assist offenders with mental health and self-harm issues, suicide deaths appear to increase this year despite the pandemic’s waning and restored visitation at many facilities. According to a report released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, suicides increased by 85 percent in state prisons, 61 percent in federal prisons, and 13 percent in local jails from 2001 to 2019.

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