Jails

Jail conditions in the U.S. are a national crisis – many jails are unsafe, overcrowded, and lack basic medical healthcare. Hundreds of people die while in jail every year. And the majority of people in American jails – on any given day, around 540,000 people – are being detained before trial. Here, we follow jail conditions across the country.

Due to "sweeping changes to California's justice system" intended to ease prison overcrowding. And it has – but it's shifted the overcrowding crisis onto jails, which were built to hold people for a short period of time, and which now struggle to handle incarcerated people with chronic medical and mental-health problems. Deaths in California jails have jumped by 26 percent since they started receiving long-term prisoners.  Summarized by Lillian Kalish...

In Fulton County, women with psychiatric illnesses are held in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours a day and often "wait months in isolation for a hospital bed to become available"; men found incompetent to stand trial are "housed at Fulton County Jail, where they are provided full-day programming, including counseling and group activities." Healthcare in the county's jails has been under scrutiny for years: in 2017, Correct Care Solutions managed the jail healthcare system for only 75 days, during which 5 people died.  The current healthcare provider has also been accused of "dangerous and deadly neglect." Summarized by Jacob Koffler...

At least 70 percent of these people were awaiting trial. These jail deaths are preventable, too, as the leading cause of death is suicide. A patchwork of reporting systems has left jail deaths underreported and jail administrators unaccountable. Additionally, it's getting worse: over the past 10 years, jail deaths have consistently increased in Oregon and Washington.  Summarized by Jacob Koffler...