Although the self-inflicted death of accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein at Manhattan’s federal detention center this month was the first recorded suicide in that facility in 13 years,suicides have been rising across the nation’s prison system, even as the overall inmate population has declined, reports USA Today.
Twenty-seven federal inmates committed suicide in the fiscal year that ended last September, the largest number in at least the past five years. At least 21 inmates, including Epstein, have killed themselves in federal facilities since Oct. 1. According to Cameron Lindsay, a former warden at three federal prisons, staffing deficits and a lack of training probably contribute to more frequent suicides. “The vast majority of people don’t care about prisoners, who are largely seen as lesser than the average citizen,” said Lindsay. “I’m not saying that all (prison) staffers don’t care; it’s more about leadership setting the tone.” In Texas, prisoner suicides spiked last year at 40, the largest number in at least a decade. Perhaps the harshest spotlight has been cast on Alabama, where a federal judge slammed the state this year for failing to address a rash of prison suicides, citing 15 deaths during a 15-month period beginning in 2017. See also: Eight Federal Officials Ignored Instructions on Epstein.