Government Trackers Missed A Thousand In-Custody Deaths Last Year, Report Says

The Justice Department (DOJ) did not keep track of hundreds of deaths occurring in prisons during fiscal year 2021, a Senate subcommittee report reveals.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ report released Tuesday said “at least 990 prison and arrest related deaths” reportedly went unidentified by the DOJ in FY2021, though many were disclosed on states’ public websites. It argued the department failed to implement the 2013 Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA 2013), which forces states to give the DOJ information about those who died in prisons and jails to secure certain federal funding.

“DOJ failed to implement effective data collection methodology, despite internal warnings from the DOJ Office of the Inspector General (‘OIG’) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS),” the report stated, claiming 70% percent of the department’s data was “incomplete.” “DOJ’s failures were preventable.”

DCRA 2013 ordered the DOJ to report data-based ways to reduced prison deaths to Congress by December 2016, but it doesn’t expect to finish doing so by August 2024, according to the report released after ten months of investigation.

The subcommittee arranged a Tuesday hearing highlighting the investigation’s findings at large and the deaths of specific incarcerated people.

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“We are here today because what the United States is allowing to happen on our watch in prisons, jails and detention centers nationwide is a moral disgrace,” subcommittee chair Jon Ossoff said. He argued the true number of deaths in FY2021 likely stood far above 990.

“In fiscal year 2020, the department did not capture any state prison deaths in 11 states, or any jail deaths in 12 states and the District of Columbia,” he said.

The DOJ did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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