Suicide is the leading cause of death in U.S. jails, and the second leading cause of death in U.S. prisons. Suicidal behavior among inmates largely stems from the custodial environment and inmates’ difficulties coping with incarceration. Unfortunately, many correctional facilities lack the comprehensive suicide prevention policies necessary to reduce inmate suicides. Under the qualified immunity doctrine, current law also shields correctional authorities from liability for failure to implement adequate suicide prevention programs in their facilities. As a result, corrections officials lack incentive to enhance their efforts toward reducing inmate suicides, and families of inmate suicide victims have limited opportunities to seek justice. This Note argues that in order to reduce inmate suicides and ensure the safety and health of incarcerated individuals, the federal government should condition funding to state and local correctional facilities on their implementation of reasonable and effective suicide prevention protocols.
Venus Chui, Correcting Correctional Suicide: Qualified Immunity and the Hurdles to Comprehensive Inmate Suicide Prevention, 59 B.C.L. Rev. 1397 (2018), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol59/iss4/6