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Caring for Those in Custody: Identifying High-Priority Needs to Reduce Mortality in Correctional Facilities (Article)

NCJ Number
Corrections Today
Date Published
July 2019
6 pages

This report presents the findings and methodology of a study with the objective of identifying factors that contribute to inmate mortality in correctional facilities and the needs that must be met to reduce inmate mortality.


The study, which was conducted by the Rand Corporation and the University of Denver and funded by the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice (NIJ), analyzed insights from a working group of experts with practical expertise in and knowledge of inmate mortality trends. The research team assembled a group of 16 individuals with expertise and knowledge of corrections and correctional health care. During a 2-day workshop, participants were divided into two breakout groups (prisons and jails). Structured exercises were conducted with each group for the purpose of eliciting information about the most pressing problems related to inmate mortality and assessing how the problems could be addressed. Discussions focused on each of the five major mortality types identified in the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) most recent report on deaths in correctional facilities ("Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons, 2000-2013"). The five major mortality types identified in that report are illness or disease, homicide, suicide, drug or alcohol intoxication, and accidental death. From these discussions, the research team identified a set of 81 needs between the two groups. The key themes that emerged pertain to support for evidence-based practices and national standards; improving capacity to provide medical and mental health care; improving organizational culture and operations; strengthening coordination and continuity of care; leveraging pharmacological advances; and strengthening data analysis and use. 3 figures

Date Published: July 1, 2019