Report: 2,000 Died During Arrests Between 2003 and 2005

The first results of the Death in Custody Reporting Act are in: 2,002 people died while being arrested in the U.S. between 2003 and 2005.

At least 2,002 people died during their arrests by state and local law enforcement officers from 2003 through 2005, the Justice Department reported yesterday. Of those suspects, officers themselves killed more than half, 80 percent of whom, the officers reported, had threatened or assaulted them with a weapon.

Drug and alcohol intoxication was the second-leading cause of death, accounting for 13 percent of the total, followed by suicide, accidental injuries, and illnesses or other natural causes.

While the number is a small percentage of those arrested, the number of those arrested is a shocker: 40 million people.


California led the nation with 310 deaths, followed by Texas with 298 and Florida with 204. New York reported 97, New Jersey 37 and Connecticut 9.

Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 44 percent of the deaths, African-Americans for 32 percent and Hispanics for 20 percent. Nearly all of the dead were men, who averaged about 33 years of age.

It's also a 13% increase from 2003 to 2005.

Two-thirds of the deaths occurred at the scene of the arrest, and the remainder at a police station or a booking facility. Suicides that occurred at booking facilities were usually hangings.

America. Prison nation.

< Florida Court Considers "Shake and Shout" Execution Procedure | Who Polices The Police (the CIA IG) ? >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    ok, a little clarification please: (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 02:54:24 AM EST
    is that 40 million individuals, or 40 million arrests? i ask because 40 million people would represent roughly 13.3% of the total population of the country. this seems a bit high.

    on the other hand, 40 million arrests may well represent multiple arrests of the same individuals, quite a different scenario altogether.

    i guess we can exclude those 2,002 from any subsequent arrests though.

    In our jail 19% of the individuals (none / 0) (#3)
    by JSN on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 07:28:10 AM EST
    were responsible for 37% of all jail bookings. The multiple returnees were booked into jail and average of 2.5 times each in a 300 day interval or a mean time between bookings of 3 months (however some of them were returning to serve a jail sentence).

    About 5% of the individuals returned three or more times (3 to 11) in the same interval. The individuals in this group are called frequent fliers and they are usually charged with misdemeanors and are typically released the next morning. This is a high risk group for having alcohol withdrawal problems if they are not released promptly. A fairly high percentage also abuse drugs and have mental health issues. These individuals are primarily a threat to their own safety (although some of them are potentially dangerous when they are intoxicated).

    We have a MH diversion program and substance abuse screening at our jail but some of them refuse to participate.  In Australia they have sobering up centers that are operated by the county health department which keeps such persons out of the Criminal Justice System and treats the problem as a public health issue. I understand that Seattle has done something similar but I bet the more belligerent ones are jailed.


    13% of the total population.... (none / 0) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 09:05:10 AM EST
    getting pinched doesn't surprise me in the least.  In my circles, its gotta be at least 50% of the people I know have been arrested.

    I'm reminded of my favorite Ayn Rand quote...

    The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

    which is the whole point of Bushco and its (none / 0) (#6)
    by scribe on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 11:22:56 AM EST
    approach to just about everything.

    There's also a good point by Rand, which also applies here:

    You can't cow free men into slavery (and keep them there), without making them feel guilty (about their freedom) and the best way to make them feel guilty is to make them criminals.

    (I'd quote it directly, but I tossed my copies of her books some time ago)


    She was a bit of a loon.... (none / 0) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 12:27:15 PM EST
    no doubt, but she had some poignant insights.

    Found another one that applies, from Jerry Rubin.

    A young person without an arrest record has been living his life in a closet.

    Wondering the same thing (none / 0) (#5)
    by Joe Bob on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 09:18:38 AM EST
    The so-called 'chronic offenders' in the precinct where I live often have literally dozens of arrests on their record. There are a handful in the 80-100 range. I don't think you even make the chronic offender list if you have less than 20 arrests.

    Granted, these tend to be low-level crimes. It's mostly alcoholics and addicts getting picked up for things like trespassing, possession, solicitation and shoplifting. Nonetheless, if you're just looking at the numbers they add up fast.


    USA/UK comparisons are useless. (none / 0) (#7)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 11:56:34 AM EST
    Many more cops have to defend their lives against deadly force in the US than in the UK.

    In the US:

    On average, a law enforcement officer is killed in the line of duty every 57 hours in America. Between 1976 and 1998, of the over 1,800 officers killed
    ie., 1,800 US cops killed in just 22 years, while in the UK 70 killed in 30 years.:
    The stabbing of a police officer in Manchester will be a further cause of concern for many within the service.

    While terrorist incidents may still be relatively unusual, the risks faced by policemen and women seem to be on the increase.

    Over the past 30 years, 70 officers have been killed in the line of duty.

    But 14 of those deaths occurred last year, and already this year there have been two fatalities.

    Interestig (none / 0) (#8)
    by jimakaPPJ on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 12:20:47 PM EST
    It seems like the stringent no gun ownership laws put in place aren't having the projected results.

    Surprise, surprise...


    Even gun prohibition.... (none / 0) (#10)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 12:51:58 PM EST
    doesn't work.

    sarcastic, (none / 0) (#12)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 04:20:43 PM EST
    i suggest you find far more accurate sources of data, prior to using them to support your position.

    1. one policemen killed every 57 hrs, for 22 years, would be 3,381 ((22x365x24)/57), not 1800. the correct figure is 1 every 107hrs. if they can't get basic math correct, why should i take anything else they say with less than a sack of salt?

    2. on the other hand, 2002 in-custody deaths in 3 years represents 1 death every 13hrs ((3x365x24)/2002), or put another way, you are 8 times more likely to die while in police custody, than they are to be killed in the line of duty.

    realistically, this kind of makes sense; the police are always armed, those taken in custody, not so much. both are operating in a heightened state of adrenelin, the armed always have the advantage over the unarmed in that situation.

    before you get your knickers in a twist, i'm not suggesting (absent additional empirical data) that the police are indiscriminately killing people, just that your numbers are wrong. they may be doing that, but so far, the evidence wouldn't seem to support such an assertion.

    what can be reasonably concluded, from all this, is that being involved in the criminal justice system, in this country, involves a much higher degree of risk, regardless of what side you're on, than being an accountant does.

    unless, like me, you practice "full-contact" accounting!

    Fair enough, thanks for the accounting. (none / 0) (#13)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 12, 2007 at 05:16:53 PM EST
    However, my point that the comparison of UK deaths is not comparible to US deaths, nothing more.

    In 2006 there were an estimated 14.4 million (none / 0) (#14)
    by JSN on Sat Oct 13, 2007 at 08:16:45 AM EST
    arrests according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports


    Offenses with more than a million arrests were

    Drug 1.9 million, DUI 1.5 million, 1.1 million larceny, 1.3 million other assaults, 4.0 million other and 1.5 million property.

    drug arrests (none / 0) (#15)
    by diogenes on Sat Oct 13, 2007 at 06:36:20 PM EST
    In my town, you see drug deals on the street all the time.  The cops only make drug arrests when something else is up (e.g. the person is also reportedly involved in violence, theft, etc) and use the drug case as the easy charge (being charged with possession is like shooting fish in a barrel, whereas witnesses to other charges are intimidated).  It is true that sometimes small time folk get caught when there is a giant county-wide sting.  Guess what-none of them ever accept the offer to testify against the big fish, preferring jail instead.
    Should witness intimidation articles go on a criminal justice site or a victim site-doesn't quite fit either.