"In 2011, 4,238 inmates died while in the custody of local jails or state prisons, an increase of 2% or 88 deaths from 2010. A total of 885 deaths (21%) occurred in local jails. Overall, jails reported 33 fewer deaths in 2011 than in 2010. Heart disease and suicide continued to be the two leading causes of death in local jails, accounting for more than half (61%) of all jail deaths in 2011. The mortality rate in jails (122 deaths per 100,000 inmates) declined 2% from 2010 to 2011, continuing a general decline in mortality rates that was first observed in 2008. Heart disease and suicide mortality rates remained relatively stable between 2010 and 2011. Over the 12-year period between 2000 and 2011, suicide accounted for an annual average of 41 deaths per 100,000 jail inmates, while heart disease accounted for 31 deaths per 100,000. To account for single-year fluctuations that are common in mortality data, 3-year moving averages were calculated for selected causes of death in jails and prisons. Figures display the most recent year for trend estimates based on 3-year moving averages centered on the middle year. For example, estimates reported for 2010 represent the average estimates from 2009 through 2011. The 3-year moving average for heart disease remained relatively stable, varying between 27 and 34 deaths per 100,000 jail inmates (figure 1). For suicide, the rate varied between 34 and 48 deaths per 100,000 inmates."
National Criminal Justice, NCJ 242186
Bureau of Justice Statistics: http://www.bjs.gov/