This episode’s guest is Margaret Noonan, Statistician with the US Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington DC. She’s the program manager for the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program at BJS. The program began in 2000 with the passage of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Act, which tasked BJS with collecting deaths occurring in jails, prisons and the process of arrest. The December 2011 report can be accessed at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=243
Margaret talks about how she got into criminal justice statistics after starting to pursue a medical career. As primary author of the Report – Prison and Jail Deaths in Custody, 2000-2009, published December, 2011 – she has much to say about the findings. Causes of death vary between jails and prisons with jails having more suicide and drug/alcohol withdrawal deaths. Trends in most deaths are flat or downward. Primary chronic disease deaths mirror the general population with cardiac and cancer deaths leading the way. As expected the aging inmate population is affecting death in custody statistics. On a bright note, deaths from AIDs related illnesses continue to decline.