With the highest incarceration rate in the world, the US holds over 1.9 million people in local, state, and federal systems. Leading the population rates is Texas, California, and Georgia, all with over 80,000 people in the jail or prison system. Once inmates are in jail, the focus is rehabilitation and release that doesn’t involve return. However, many who are incarcerated are vulnerable to violence from other prisoners that keeps them from improving, physically and emotionally. When inmates hurt each other, it can result in injuries, or even death, and when these events occur, when is the facility responsible?

It’s no surprise that inmates who spend a significant amount of time imprisoned have shown signs of mental and physical wear, with new issues being diagnosed and pre-existing issues getting worse. In many jails, prisons, and federal prisons, inmates with mental health concerns represent nearly half or more of the population. With so many inmates sharing facilities, and with shortages in staff, there have been many violent outbreaks. In what USA Today calls a “dire” situation, prisons and jails have been understaffed for years, with 2022 hitting the lowest mark in over 20 years. In certain jails, inmates have been forced to share cells with other inmates who are known to be dangerous as well as subjected to “rampant racism” and unnecessary restraint from prison guards. In California, especially, where the rate of prisoners has lowered, the rates of in-custody deaths keep rising.


Cause of Jail Deaths

With 225 deaths each year, California jails have seen over 2,700 deaths since 2005. “Natural causes,” an umbrella term that has been used in the past to describe many deaths during custody have been recently identified as suicide, drug overdose, and violence among inmates. Many deaths are also unidentified, and the causes are still pending. In response, beginning in July, California passed a law that will add a staff position to solely review in-custody deaths.

In the cases of in-custody deaths, the inmate’s information is gathered and the cause of death is determined from the surrounding details. The prison or jail needs to determine whether the death was natural, suspicious, or violent. A press release is made by the Department of Correction with the inmate’s information, but usually not the cause of death. The correctional facility then contacts the next of kin for funeral arrangements. Should the family members suspect a violent death, or inadequate investigation of the death (or injury) of their loved one, they may file a claim themselves or contact an attorney to find out more information. If the family proceeds without an attorney, they can file an SF-95 and a notice, should the paperwork be filled out correctly, will be sent to the family. However, the process is complicated and time consuming. An attorney can obtain video footage, medical records, and will know the proper avenues to proceed with their findings. They can also talk to medical examiners or correctional officers.

Jail and prison facilities are responsible for the safety of its inmates while in-custody. Injury, death, or suspicion of both caused by inmate violence is an acceptable reason to investigate and hire an attorney.

inmate violence

When are jails responsible for inmate-on-inmate violence and death?

Jail Death and Serious Injury Attorney in Los Angeles

If your loved one has suspiciously died due to what you believe may be jail negligence, we want to hear your case. Justice cannot wait and the California Statute of Limitations lays out a specific time frame on when you’re no longer able to file a lawsuit. Please contact us immediately: we always offer free consultations.