A record number of convicts killed themselves in California prisons during 2005, double the national inmate suicide rate, the Associated Press reports. The trend, approaching one suicide each week, is triggering new complaints from attorneys for prisoners that the state is stalling prevention efforts. Prison officials deny delays and say they thwart most suicide attempts. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported 44 suicides in an inmate population at an all-time high of nearly 164,000. There were 26 suicides in 2004. The rate is 27 deaths per 100,000 inmates, compared with a national rate of 14 per 100,000 calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Seventy percent of California inmate suicides occur in disciplinary isolation units, and the rate there was nearly 10 times higher than in the system as a whole in 2004. Lawyers for more than 26,000 mentally ill inmates in California will ask a Sacramento federal judge on Thursday to order better training of guards to provide emergency resuscitation when inmates are found unresponsive.