So I was looking at the numbers – several twitter entries and blogs showed a chart from DOJ showing numbers of arrest-related deaths from 2003 – 2009. Many blogs indicated that they couldn’t tell whether the majority were black men or not but certainly led the reader to believe that it is. It isn’t.
What it is though, is a number which is obscene and doesn’t include every death or other harm that came from arrests. This particular chart from DOJ has a number of reasons to have excluded deaths even where they could’ve been known to be a direct result of US police action.
Notably and what is likely a huge number of deaths – and also not included are arrest-related deaths which were not for any crime or criminal behavior but where family, neighbors, roommates, spouses, friends or court ordered a person to be taken into custody for mental health concerns and observation. There are tremendous numbers of those police actions resulting in the deaths of people who have done no crime whatever, even some of whom are being targeted by spouses or family for police to do a well check, whether by concern or intentional harassment.
Table 3 from this document shows the arrest-related deaths by police from 2003 – 2009. It is lower than reality’s numbers, it is a chart five years away from today and it excludes areas that you or I would’ve thought to be included –
On the chart, it shows – 4,823 deaths in total for 2003 – 2009 with 2,026 of deaths caused to whites, non-hispanic, 1,529 deaths caused to blacks, non-hispanic and 949 deaths caused to hispanics. Then another 309 deaths were caused to people with unknown or other races. That is obscene, but not the whole picture & 5 yrs old info.
In another doc, it lists 47,115 deaths that have occurred in state and local jails from 2000 – 2011 across the US. Those figures are over three years old and include 11,798 deaths in local jails and 35,317 deaths in state prisons. These figures do not include all deaths either, nor those which happened at all jails because starting in 2007, the law requiring them to report ended and was not renewed. It represents just over 96% of jails and state prisons, but not inclusively all types of those either.
On pg 28 of this document, there is an explanation of the many areas of deaths not included though related to jails, prisons and incarceration –
From the above document, Chart 7 lists number of deaths in local jails (+/- 96% of them) and Chart 14 lists number of deaths in state prisons by years. I added the numbers to get the total of 47,115 and as mentioned already, far lower a number than reality because of exclusions to the data and voluntary reporting by authorities at jails and prisons.
Another place where I found some interesting, if not wholly horrifying numbers is a document about a Study of Deaths Following Use of (Stun Guns) by Police reported in Spring of 2010. They call this weapon, electro muscular disruption by (CED) Conducted Energy Devices.
The first few paragraphs of this document makes this statement –
As of spring 2010, conducted energy devices (CEDs) [stun guns] causing electro muscular disruption have been procured by more than 12,000 law enforcement agencies in the United States. Approximately 260,000 CEDs [stun guns] have been issued to law enforcement officers nationwide.
From simple extrapolation, if 260,000 stun guns (also called tasers) were in active duty as of 2010 and it is 2014 now – there are more than that now AND if each officer with one has the occasion to use it even once a year – it represents at least that many opportunities for death to citizens when it was used on them. That is simple enough. To project it beyond that –
260,000 [stun gun] electro muscular disruption guns are in use across 50 states in US every day across billions of occasions to use them from traffic stops, to every other law enforcement action or call – then times 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No, I don’t even want to do that math – but will go find some more numbers to get a better picture of the problem.