Jeffrey Epstein’s death – officially ruled a suicide on Friday – draws attention to a dark trend in U.S. prisons and jails. There are approximately 50 suicides in jail for every 100,000 inmates, making the jail suicide rate 3.5 times higher than that of the general population.

“Suicide in jails and prisons is more than a personal tragedy,” writes Austin Sarat of Amherst College. “It often indicates a failure in the duty imposed on prison officials.” His story today explores why inmates kill themselves and how suicides like Epstein’s complicate the pursuit of justice.

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In jail, suicides occur for 50 deaths per 100,000 inmates. Dan Henson/

Who is responsible when an inmate commits suicide?

Austin Sarat, Amherst College

People in jail kill themselves at a rate 3.5 times higher than that of the general population.

Economy + Business

Environment + Energy


  • 5 tips for college students to avoid burnout

    Ryan Korstange, Middle Tennessee State University

    Going to college can be a stressful experience that takes a toll on students' health and well-being. A higher education specialist offers tips to keep the stress at bay.

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