The number of deaths in U.S. jails increased annually from 2000 to 2007 but the rate per 100,000 inmates decreased during that span, the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics said today. During the 8 yeras, there were 8,110 inmate deaths reported. The annual total rose from 905 in 2000 to 1,103 in 2007. Suicide was the leading single cause of death, accounting for 29 percent of the fatalities.
The mortality rate per 100,000 local jail inmates declined from 152 deaths per 100,000 inmates to 141 per 100,000 between 2000 and 2007, while the jail inmate population increased 31 percent from 597,226 to 782,592. Suicide rates were higher in small jails than large jails. In jails holding 50 or fewer inmates, the suicide rate was 169 per 100,000; in the largest jails, the suicide rate was 27 per 100,000 inmates.