Recent reports highlight continuing tragedy of prison deaths

Male Prisonersource: royds withy king
published: 13 March 2020

Following the latest statistics on prison deaths in England, Ali Cloak considers the alarming findings and explores the inequality of funding for families in prison inquests.

Sadly the number of deaths in prison have been higher in the last six years than they have been since the 1970s. Deaths in prison can be particularly devastating for families as they are often given little, if any, information about the circumstances of how their loved one died. They may then be left with lots of unanswered questions about how their loved one came by their death when they were supposed to be under the care of the state and in a safe place.

In January 2020, the Government released its latest statistics on deaths in prison, showing that there had been 300 deaths in prison in 2019. This is over five deaths per week across the country.

The statistics also showed that 28% of those deaths were self-inflicted, which is one self-inflicted death every four days. Whilst 55% of the deaths are classified as ‘natural causes’, these are often still deaths that are likely to have been avoided with the provision of basic medical care.

Also in January, INQUEST, a national charity and expert in state-related deaths, produced a new report into prison deaths. The report analyses 61 inquests in to deaths in prison that took place in 2018-19 (although the deaths themselves took place between 2013 and 2018).

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