How have jails become the deadliest waiting rooms in America?
Death before Sentencing provides a sweeping exposé of thousands of avoidable deaths that have occurred in the U.S. county and local jail systems within the past few decades. These deaths have been overlooked, under-investigated, and even covered-up as jail systems avoid responsibility and refuse to take action.
This is the most complete investigation of the deadly side of jails, describing the daily deaths of detainees, including those from suicides, untreated drug and alcohol withdrawal, forced restraint and brutality, and general medical malpractice provided by for-profit correctional medical providers. The lack of attention and responsibility paid by state and local officials, law enforcement, and medical examiners has facilitated these ongoing and increasing avoidable deaths.
Looking forward to reforms being initiated by the U.S. Justice Department Civil Rights Division and within state legislatures and celebrating successful lawsuits, Andrew R. Klein lays out institutional reforms required to curtail the epidemic of the daily deaths in America’s jails.
Andrew R. Klein, Ph.D., has worked in corrections since his appointment as a probation officer in the 1970’s. For the last decade, he has worked with prisons and jails across the country to advance substance use disorder programs, becoming intimately acquainted with the nation’s jails and their challenges, struggles, successes, and failures, as well as the men and women who run and staff them. Klein is a recognized national leader for correctional reform.
Jessica L. Klein is a freelance journalist, published widely in such outlets as the New York Times, the Atlantic, and the BBC.
Chapter 1: Jails vs Prisons
Booking vs Non-Booking Jails
Chapter 2: A Step Back: How America Invented Prisons
Chapter 3: Jails and Prisons Today
COVID-19 Jail Exodus
Chapter 4: How Did America Become the World’s Biggest Jailer?
Cash Bail and Bail Bondspersons
Racism and the War on Drugs
Probation and Parole, Recycling Inmates
Chapter 5: Death in Jails
Medical Examiners, Coroners and “Natural Deaths”
Racism and Brutality, They Can’t Breathe in Jails, Too
Weapons of Detainee Destruction: Tasers, WRAP, Pepper Spray, and Restraint Chairs
Jails’ Toxic Environments
Drug and Alcohol Toxicity and Withdrawal
Security and Medical Providers Team Up to Deprive Care
Jail Medical Providers (Making Money, Limiting Care)
Chapter 6: Getting Away with Murder, The Failure to Hold Jails Accountable
Sheriffs Investigate Themselves
County Prosecutors Cover for Deadly Jails
State Review of Jails Tepid and Ignored
U.S. Justice Department Ends Custody Death Investigations
Chapter 7: Grieving Families Left to Attempt to Hold Jails Accountable
Jail Withdrawal Wrongful Death Lawsuits Awards/Settlements Growing
Chapter 8: Signs of Hope
Holding Corrections Officer Accountable
Increasing Media Coverage
Increasing Prosecutorial Scrutiny
Electing Reform Sheriffs
Rebirth of U.S. Justice Department Oversight
Evicting For Profit Medical Providers
Even Medical Examiners?
Lawsuits Bear Fruit
Chapter 9: Ending America’s Deadly Jails
Ending Correctional Medicine through Medicaid Expansion
Increasing Jail Oversight
In this exposé of deaths in US jails, Klein, a long-time correctional worker and reformist, digs deeply into a largely ignored space. Though federal and state prisons are more consistently researched, Klein studies more than 3,000 county and local jails to examine how they continue to escape accountability for the deaths that occur inside them. Klein pens nine chapters showing how history can shed light on the brutality of contemporary jails. Evidence of suicides, untreated drug and substance withdrawals, forced restraint, medical malpractice, disingenuous autopsies, and lack of political oversight make clear that the American prison system has abetted avoidable deaths and needs serious reform. Klein is persuasive, measured, and deliberative yet allows his detailed research to speak for itself. The result is eye-opening and should be read by all those interested in criminology, law, sociology, and prison reform. Researchers can quickly see that there simply is not another book quite like this, making Klein’s work groundbreaking. Highly recommended. Advanced undergraduates through faculty; practitioners; general readers.
10/14/22, Harvard Magazine: The book was included in a roundup of new releases from alumni.