From NPR: DOJ watchdog finds 187 inmate suicides in federal prisons over 8-year period

Over an eight-year period, 344 inmates in federal prison died from suicide, homicide or accidents, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
The watchdog’s report comes in the wake of several high-profile deaths in federal lockups in recent years, most notably the murder of Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger and the suicide of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.
Those deaths put a spotlight on the long-standing failures and challenges within the federal Bureau of Prisons, a sprawling system that currently houses some 155,000 inmates across more than 100 facilities.
“Today’s report identified numerous operational and managerial deficiencies, which created unsafe conditions prior to and at the time of a number of theses deaths,” Inspector General Michael Horowitz said.
The report examines four categories of non-medical deaths in the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, between 2014 and 2021: suicide, homicide, accident and unknown factors (when there was not enough information to definitively determine the cause of death).
Of the 344 inmate deaths the internal watchdog found over that time period, more than half of them — 187 — were suicides. Homicides were the next biggest category with 89, followed by 56 accidents and 12 unknown.
Negligence, staff failures led to Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide, a DOJ report says. Hanging was the most common cause of death, followed by drug overdose and blunt force trauma.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Democrat Dick Durbin of Illinois, said that Horowitz and BOP Director Collette Peters will appear before the panel on Feb. 28 for a hearing focused on deaths in the federal prison system.
“It is deeply disturbing that today’s report found that the majority of BOP’s non-medical deaths in custody could have been prevented or mitigated by greater compliance with BOP policy, better, staffing, and increased mental health and substance abuse treatment,” Durbin said in a statement.  “Accountability across the Bureau is necessary and long overdue.”
The report says that the BOP has policies in place to try to prevent inmate suicides, including identifying potentially suicidal inmates, managing medication and housing decisions. DOJ watchdog finds missteps by prison officials ahead of Whitey Bulger’s killing. But it says that combination of both policy violations and operational failures contributed to the suicides.
In many instances, it says, an inmate was inappropriately deemed to not be a suicide risk, only to then die by suicide. The report also found that more than half of the inmates who died by suicide were housed in a cell alone, which increases suicide risk.
“We also found that some institution staff failed to coordinate efforts across departments to provide necessary treatment or follow-up with inmates in distress and that staff did not sufficiently conduct required rounds or counts in over a third of the inmate suicides in our scope,” the report said.
The Report:
IG Report on Deaths in the BOP