The number of people dying in U.S. prisons has reached record highs these past years, coinciding with the increase in incarcerations. The mortality rate in state prisons is a shocking 275 per 100,000 people — more than 20 times higher than the chances of dying in a car accident. Salt Lake City prisons, as well as other correctional facilities in Utah, have reported 71 deaths during the past five years, making Utah prisons the most dangerous in the USA.
The despair of losing your freedom and having nothing to look forward to year after year can drive prisoners to death. Sometimes the terror and despair of prison life drive inmates to end their life within months or weeks. In Utah prisons, almost half the number of prison deaths were suicides that happened within a week of incarceration. Prisons are already overcrowded, and staff cannot possibly monitor every prisoner. Inmates with mental problems or medical conditions have higher risks of suicide. Prison screenings for suicidal tendencies are seldom effective — if they are administered at all — and most inmates with mental problems fly under the radar.
Utah has one of the highest incarceration rates for criminal possession of illegal substances. People have been swept from the streets and jailed, and most receive little or no treatment for their condition. They spend their days in prison untreated as they wait for their trial dates. In Weber and Davis county jails, 75 percent of prison fatalities were unconvicted inmates still awaiting trial, and 25 percent of those fatalities were from substance abuse withdrawals. Utah prisons simply don’t have the facilities, personnel, or medication to handle and monitor every detainee who comes in for possession. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers are the ideal locations to process drug-dependent inmates, but the state doesn’t have the resources to handle the vast number of new inmates every year. The recently passed Criminal Justice Reform Bill demands these kinds of facilities and alternative avenues for reform, but changes are slow in coming.
Pay Your Bond and Avoid Jail
You need to do everything in your power to avoid seeing the inside of a cell. Pay your bond as soon as you can or use the services of a bail bondsman. You might think a week or two in jail isn’t worth the money, but you might be betting with your life. A 28-year-old woman was jailed for a minor traffic violation and died from an apparent suicide three days later. Stories like this are prevalent, and you’ll never know your breaking point until you taste the rigors of prison life. Whether it’s the violence, isolation, or just the monotony, prison life is not something you want to experience. Avoiding prison doesn’t even have to be expensive. If you go through a bail guarantor, you’ll only need to pay 10 percent of your actual bond.
Prisons, especially those in Utah, are extremely dangerous. They suck the life out of you and drain your spirit. Do everything you can to avoid incarceration and get in touch with a guarantor to be safe.