The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is supporting research to respond to the study requirement included in the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (DCRA). Specifically, the DCRA requires the Attorney General to conduct a study and submit a report to Congress using the information reported by the states and federal law enforcement agencies to “(A) determine means by which such information can be used to reduce the number of such deaths, and (B) examine the relationship, if any, between the number of such deaths and the actions of management of such jails, prisons, and other specified facilities relating to such deaths” (See 34 U.S.C. § 60105 (f)(1)(A) & (B)).
To meet the study requirement, NIJ is managing the development of two substantive study reports:
Literature Review and Data Analysis on Deaths in Custody
The first report reviews existing research literature and data focused on the prevalence, patterns, and contexts of deaths in custody; discusses the limitations of the existing research; and presents findings from a new analysis of data on mortality in correctional institutions. In the new analysis, decedent data reported through the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Mortality in Correctional Institutions program is linked to other collections that include information about facility characteristics and practices, as an initial step to explore factors associated with deaths in correctional institutions. Finally, the report considers implications of the findings and opportunities for improving the future collection and analysis of data on deaths in custody.
Deaths in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) Study, 2021-2024
The second report will result from a broader multi-year study designed to generate significant advances in the knowledge and understanding of deaths in custody and to develop recommendations that can support efforts to prevent and reduce such deaths. The study will involve a national-level review and analysis of policies, practices, and available data addressing deaths in custody; and in-depth case studies in multiple sites and types of agencies. The study will gather new information beyond the data elements identified in the DCRA statute, which are not sufficient to address the study requirement. RTI International is working closely with NIJ scientists, in coordination with BJA and BJS, to implement the study.