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Let’s Be Real About Jail Suicides



We love to voice our opinions with extreme examples. Point in mind – Ariel Castro. Since his assumed suicide, jails-prisons suicides have become the latest hot topic. If you review the comments that follow articles about this controversial issue, you will read responses arguing that all inmates should suffer as much as possible and that jails should provide extra shoelaces to every incoming inmate for suicide assistance. The hardliners point to Ariel Castro to support their arguments.

The hardliners forget one important fact, that most inmates are not Ariel Castro. It is worthwhile to consider actual facts by reviewing actual statistics from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In 2009, 82% of sentenced prisoners in federal prisons were incarcerated for non-violent crimes, compared with 78 % of convicted inmates in jails in 2002. In 2008, approximately 50% of state prisoners were incarcerated for non-violent crimes.

Although the United States has only 5% of the world’s population, our country has 25% of the world’s inmate population. It is a staggering statistic. Despite these numbers, it is important to see each incarcerated inmate as an individual. When discussing the issue of jail and prison suicides, we cannot and should not consider all inmates as one Ariel Castro.