United States: More and more prisoners commit suicide in prisons
Suicides have become the leading cause of death in prisons in the United States. In 2014, 50 inmates in 100,000 took their lives The last time Tanna Jo Fillmore talked to her mother, she did it from a jail in Utah, United States, annoying, desperate. He called her every day that week, imploring them to help her.
At age 25, Fillmore suffered from mental disorders, but Xanax and a hyperactivity medicine had stabilized her. Now, locked up for violating the terms of a parole, a nurse refused to give her pills, as she told her mother. The last time they spoke, Fillmore threatened to kill himself.
Melany Zaoumadakis was so worried that she called the social worker in charge of supervising her daughter, who assured her that Fillmore was being watched closely. The next day, however, Fillmore hanged himself in a cell in a Duchesne County jail.
Her case is not an isolated one. Stories like Fillmore’s are told over and over again, but deaths continue to happen in large and small penalties. Suicides, long the leading cause of death in US prisons, reached 50 deaths per 100,000 inmates in 2014, the last year with official information available. That is two and a half times the suicide rate in state penalties and three and a half times that of the general population.
It is a problem that is generally attributed to the fact that more and more people with mental disorders end up in prisons, a trend that began when numerous state psychiatric hospitals were closed in the 1970s and the promised alternatives did not arise. More recently, prisons have been filled with opioid and methamphetamine addicts, many of whom cope with depressions and withdrawal symptoms.
Problematic questions have been raised regarding the treatment of prisoners with mental disorders in the 3,100 municipal prisons in the country, the possibility of negligent driving and that some of these deaths have been avoided.
A joint investigation by the Associated Press and the Capital News Service of the University of Maryland indicated that many prisons have been sued or are being investigated on suspicion of denying medicines to inmates, ignoring requests for help, not properly supervising them or imposing conditions too severe
These demands represent only a minor part of the problem. An exclusive report on the state of affairs in 50 states indicated that there were more than 300 suicides in municipal prisons between 2015 and 2017 … in only nine states. The other states did not provide the information or presented incomplete information. National government statistics for 2014 indicate that there were 372 suicides that year in the 3,000 prisons studied.
The worst of all this, according to lawyers and civil rights defenders, is that these deaths are mostly preventable. ‘The vast majority were predictable and preventable,’ said Lori Rifkin, a defense attorney for the rights of California prisoners. ‘But this continues to happen because, in general terms, I consider that, due to a cultural issue, we tend to underestimate the clues that help predict suicides and ignore the steps necessary to prevent them.’
Jonathan Thompson, director of the National Sheriffs Association, said the report is absurd and that prison employees are placed in impossible situations. ‘We are not a nation of psychologists,’ he said. ‘We decided to accommodate people with mental disorders in a prison … that is not equipped or trained to handle them nor is it able to solve problems efficiently and effectively.’