Civil Rights

New Investigative Report Confirms JDF’s Experience of Preventable Deaths in Prisons

February 17, 2024
Washington D.C.

Table Of Contents


This week, the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General released an investigative report regarding inmate deaths in federal prisons. The report identified the Bureau of Prison’s failure to properly respond to and prevent suicide and medical emergencies as the two leading causes of inmate deaths. In the majority of cases, staff also failed to uphold BOP protocols which wrongfully put inmates in danger.

According to the 8th amendment, the government has an obligation to provide medical and psychiatric care to anyone who is incarcerated. New York prison injury attorneys at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm have a history of successfully representing wrongful death claims due to suicide and failure to administer proper medical care on behalf of prisoners.

Read more:

$1.2M Settlement reached on behalf of prisoner who committed suicide despite extensive calls for help.
$3M Recovered on behalf of inmate who was paralyzed due to delayed spinal cord treatment.

If a loved one has passed away while incarcerated due to the facility’s failure to administer proper medical or mental health care, contact an experienced New York inmate death lawyer today to discuss your rights.

Report Reveals Alarming BOP Failure to Prevent Inmate Deaths

The Federal Government is responsible for ensuring that all inmates incarcerated in federal prison are kept safe. However, the 2024 watchdog report alarmingly revealed that from 2014 to 2021, there were 344 inmate deaths due to suicide, homicide, and accidents.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed that there were “several operational and managerial deficiencies, which created unsafe conditions prior to and at the time of a number of these deaths.”

The two leading causes of death in prison were suicide deaths and death due to failure to respond to medical emergencies, particularly drug overdoses. In both circumstances, it is the facility’s responsibility to properly respond to and care for inmates in medical or mental health emergencies, and evidently, failure to do so can put inmates at risk of serious injury and death.

Failure to Administer Proper Mental Health Care Leads to Prison Suicides

The report revealed that suicide was the most prevalent form of inmate death, accounting for approximately 54% of all deaths. BOP Policies require staff to assess inmates, monitor factors that may worsen risk of suicide, and perform timely interventions when necessary. However, in 42% of inmate deaths, the BOP identified shortcomings in the management of suicide risk patients, including but not limited to:

  1. Inadequate Suicide Risk Evaluation: In about 20% of suicide deaths, staff failed to properly designate the inmate as a suicide risk despite prior mental health history or suicide attempts, and in 50% of these cases the BOP identified concerns with staff mental health evaluations.
  2. Single-Cell Confinement and Failure to Monitor: In more than half of inmate suicides, inmates were left alone in a single-cell or restrictive housing. BOP staff also failed to conduct rounds in 30-minute intervals, leaving at-risk inmates alone for a significant amount of time.
  3. Staff Training Deficiencies: Training deficiencies among staff led to miscommunication between staff and inmates, particularly failure to de-escalate situations where an inmate was at risk of committing self-harm. Furthermore, over 70% of BOP facilities were unable to show that their staff completed suicide risk training drills, which are required by BOP policy.

Failure to Properly Respond to Medical Emergencies in Prison Leads to Death

Likewise, the report found significant shortcomings in emergency response times in 48% of inmate deaths. According to the BOP’s standards of Employee Conduct, employees must respond immediately, effectively, and appropriately to all medical emergencies. The report identified the following deficiencies to medical emergencies:

  1. Lack of Urgency: Once staff are made aware of a life-threatening emergency, they are required to attend to the inmate within 4 minutes, however the report found that staff would slowly make their way to medical emergencies, taking an average of 9 minutes. In suicide and overdose cases, delay in treatment by a few minutes may be the difference between life and death.
  2. Lack of Emergency Treatment Equipment: BOP facilities are required to have a team of first responders with training in CPR and AED administration during every shift. However, in nearly one-fifth of inmate deaths, staff failed to bring the AED or the AED was not functioning properly.
  3. Staff Communication Failures: The OIG identified communication failures between medical staff, which inhibited their ability to timely respond to emergencies. Alarmingly, in some BOP facilities, there was no standardized way for both inmates and staff to request emergency medical assistance.
  4. Hesitancy to Initiate Drug Overdose Protocol: 20% of all inmate deaths were due to drug overdoses, however correctional officers were hesitant to administer naloxone without medical staff present, despite being trained to do so. Furthermore, only 50% of BOP facilities completed follow-up naloxone training.

Speak with an Experienced New York Jail Death Attorney Today

If a loved one has wrongfully passed away while incarcerated due the facility’s negligence, contact the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm today to discuss your rights.

Inmates should never be put in a dangerous situation due to their facility’s failure to provide adequate care. The Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm is currently representing wrongful death cases and catastrophically injured clients with claims related to nearly every shortcoming that the OIG’s report identified.

Our lead civil rights attorney, Jaehyun Oh has successfully recovered millions of dollars on behalf of wrongfully injured prisoners and their families.

The Civil Rights Team at the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm has years of experience litigating cases on behalf of wrongfully injured prisoners, and we have successfully pursued Eight Amendment claims against prison facilities for recklessly disregarding an inmate’s health and putting them at risk of catastrophic injury and even death.

Contact the Jacob Fuchsberg Law Firm today for a free, strictly confidential consultation.

We can help when the unimaginable happens.