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For New Jersey Jails, Suicides and Overdoses, but Little Oversight

By one count, New Jersey's county jails have the highest rate of deaths in custody of the 30 largest systems in the nation

David Acosta was at home on a Sunday morning in January when he got the call from a friend, a corrections officer at the Hudson County Correctional Facility, who told him that something bad had happened to his sister.

“I said, ‘I know, she’s locked up,’ ” Acosta remembered. “He said, ‘No, it’s a little worse.’”

Guards found Cynthia Acosta, 34, hanging from torn bed sheets tied to an overturned bunk. She was the third of six deaths that occured at the Kearny facility between June 2017 and March 2018, and one of dozens of suicides that occurred over the last several years at the state’s county jails.

The exact number of deaths at New Jersey jails are difficult to count. An examination of public records found wide disparities in the statistics that counties maintain and what they provide to the state and federal governments. In some counties, the month-by-month death numbers listed in annual state inspection reports do not add up to the yearly totals in those very same reports. 

Read the full story at WNYC News, a content partner of NJ Spotlight.

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