The apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein, a financier and convicted sex offender being prosecuted for everything from human trafficking to child molestation, soaked up headlines on August 10.
Although there have been numerous conspiracy theories surrounding his death, Epstein’s reported suicide in prison was hardly original. Many high-profile criminal defendants have committed suicide in jails and prisons across the United States.
Let’s review some of the most high-profile prison and jail suicides that grabbed national headlines in their time.
The Problem of Prison Suicides in the U.S.
Inmates committing suicides in jails and prisons all across the nation is a major problem that has been on the rise in recent years.
In 2015 alone, more people committed suicide in jails and prisons across the nation than over the preceding decade, as reported by The Conversation. According to NPR, about a third of all jail deaths in the U.S. are caused by suicides.
Interestingly, a graph provided by NPR shows that jail inmates were more than twice as likely to take their own life while serving a sentence compared to prison inmates.
5 Famous Prison and Jail Suicides
Epstein’s suicide in prison might be the most-talked-about jail suicide case of 2019, but there have been at least five other famous cases of people killing themselves in prisons and jails that made national headlines over the past decade.
Aaron Josef Hernandez
Aaron Hernandez was an NFL player, who played three seasons with the New England Patriots. Hernandez’s football career was cut short when he was arrested and convicted of murdering Odin Lloyd.
The late NFL star was also indicted for the double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in 2012. In 2017, Hernandez was acquitted of the double homicide. Days after the acquittal, Hernandez was found dead in his prison cell. His death was officially ruled a suicide.
Johnny Lee Jackson (aka Johnny J)
Johnny Lee Jackson, best known for his professional nickname Johnny J, was a Mexican-American songwriter, rapper, and music producer whose albums went platinum.
Johnny J was also famous for his work with 2Pac, who is considered to be the greatest rapper of all time, on Me Against the World and All Eyez on Me.
In 2008, Johnny J was arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) and sentenced to 3 years in prison. Two months after the arrest, Johnny J allegedly committed suicide by jumping off an upper tier of a California prison.
Lawrence Lamond Phillips
Lawrence Phillips was a famous NFL player who played for Miami Dolphins, St. Louis Rams, and San Francisco 49ers.
In the mid-2000s, Phillips was convicted for felony assault with a deadly weapon, assault with great bodily injury, making criminal threats, false imprisonment, and auto theft.
While serving his sentence in a California state prison, Phillips was charged with first-degree murder of his former cellmate and could have faced the death penalty. In 2016, Phillips took his own life in the prison while serving a seven-year term and an additional twenty-five years.
In 2013, Ariel Castro pleaded guilty to 937 criminal counts of kidnapping, rape, and aggravated murder. His most high-profile case was kidnapping and holding captive three girls, Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Georgina DeJesus, for more than 10 years.
Castro was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison, but one month into his sentence, he ended his life by hanging himself in his cell.
Sandra Bland was a young African-American a civil rights activist and a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In 2015, Bland was arrested during a traffic stop. Three days after the arrest, she was found hanged in her jail cell in Texas. Bland’s alleged suicide gave rise to protests, with many disputing the cause of her death.
What do you think? Did Jeffrey Epstein really off himself or was there foul play to protect the powerful and wealthy people to whom he allegedly pimped young girls?