In Houston’s jail, where the population is at its highest in a decade, 24 people have died this year. More than half had a history of mental problems.
“Houston, whose jail has reached its highest population count in over a decade, is far from the only city where jails have become more fatal. Deaths have spiked in cities across the country, including New York, Oklahoma City, Seattle, Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky. California, Texas and Georgia have also recorded statewide increases in deaths. Covid-19 accounts for only part of the rising toll — suicides and fatal overdoses have also increased in some places.
Jail officials blame a host of factors, including crowding, staff shortages, mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic and the repurposing of beds in solitary confinement, once available to isolate violent detainees, that now must be used for quarantining the ill.”