“In any given year, the vast majority of the thousands of jails in the United States do not report a single death. That makes sense. Jails are supposed to be controlled environments. You can’t get in a car accident behind bars. You shouldn’t be able to overdose on drugs or attempt suicide without a staff member noticing. If you have a health problem, jails should provide medical care.
“But each year, about 1,000 Americans die in jail anyway. Many die without the public knowing why, or whether their deaths could have been prevented. Although the federal government collects data on jail deaths, it only publishes that data years later, and in aggregate, making it impossible to identify facilities that have particularly high death rates.”