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Suicides Lead Causes of Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest

A new report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics presents statistics on deaths that occur during federal arrest, detention, and incarceration in the United States. It is the third in a series in response to the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) of 2013 that requires federal law enforcement agencies to report information about the death of any person who dies while detained, under arrest, being arrested, or in the custody of federal law enforcement officers. The report describes decedent, incident, and facility characteristics of deaths in federal custody and during arrest by federal law enforcement agencies during fiscal year 2020.


Federal law enforcement agencies reported 65 arrest-related deaths and 614 deaths in custody in fiscal year 2020. Homicides accounted for for seven percent of the 65 arrest-related deaths in FY 2020, suicides accounted for twenty six percent, and deaths from natural causes or accidents each accounted for thirteen percent. In FY 2020, about eighty nine percent of decedents in arrest-related deaths were male, sixty nine percent were white, and sixty two percent were ages 25 to 44. In sixty percent of arrest-related deaths in FY 2020, law enforcement was serving a warrant when they made initial contact with the decedent.