Translate page with Google

Story Publication logo November 9, 2023

How Many Deaths Occurred in Your County’s Jail? See Our Database

A group of people gather in a graveyard on a rainy day

Each year an untold number of people die in jails across Pa. Their stories often go untold and their...

author #1 image author #2 image
Multiple Authors

The lack of proper reporting by Pa. jails is widespread, resulting in severe undercounting of in-custody deaths in the Commonwealth.

PennLive and the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism spent 6 months investigating in-custody deaths to create the first comprehensive database of such deaths in Pa.

As a nonprofit journalism organization, we depend on your support to fund more than 170 reporting projects every year on critical global and local issues. Donate any amount today to become a Pulitzer Center Champion and receive exclusive benefits!

Toggle over any county on this interactive map to see the number of deaths and details about those deaths. The database will continue to be updated as we learn of new deaths.

Some key findings from the database:

  • The investigation identified at least 65 deaths in custody across the state last year. Only 40 were reported as required.
  • Allegheny and Dauphin counties both ranked above the statewide and national average jail death rates.
  • Delaware county, the state’s fifth largest, reported five deaths with an average daily jail population of about 1,450 people.
  • Nine counties with populations ranging from 150 to nearly 1,000 had at least two people die in jail last year and 15 counties reported at least one death.
  • In all, at least 28 counties had someone die while in custody. That means 39 counties reported no deaths.
  • The county with the highest death rate had one death in 2022: Potter County. The county’s daily jail population is low, about 33 people per day.
  • Suicide was the most common manner of death in all counties except Allegheny, accounting for roughly 40 percent of all deaths in jails.
  • Nine deaths were classified as accidental, most of which were overdoses, but one person choked and one man drowned in his cell in Philadelphia.
  • Two men died by homicide in jails last year.
  • Only one death among the 66 across the state was listed as undetermined, which means the coroner could not decide on one of the four other manners of death - natural, homicide, suicide or accidental. That individual was Jamal Crummel, a 45-year-old man who died in Dauphin County Prison in January after developing hypothermia twice in his cell.

The database is available for other media sites to use for free.

If you have information about a death in a jail in Pennsylvania, please email Josh Vaughn at [email protected] or Brittany Hailer at [email protected]


Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice


two cows


Bringing Stories Home

Bringing Stories Home

Support our work

Your support ensures great journalism and education on underreported and systemic global issues