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Dept. of Justice - Bureau of Justice Statistics - Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 - Statistical Tables, 2020

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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Statistics

December 2020, NCJ 252838

Connor Brooks and Kevin M. Scott, Ph.D., BJS Statisticians
Anthony Whyde, former BJS Statistician

F

ederal law enforcement and detention
agencies reported 92 arrest-related deaths
and 897 deaths in custody in fiscal years
(FY) 2016 and 2017 combined. Homicides
made up about 47% of the arrest-related deaths
in FY 2016 and FY 2017 (figure 1). Homicide
is the willful killing of one person by another
and includes justifiable homicide by a law
enforcement officer. Eighty-six percent of deaths
in custody (deaths of detained or incarcerated
persons) were due to illness. Nearly 7% of
deaths in custody over the 2-year period were
determined to be suicides.
Findings are based on the Federal Law
Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody
Reporting Program (FDCRP), which the Bureau
of Justice Statistics (BJS) developed in response
to the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA)
of 2013 (P.L. 113-242). The law requires each
federal law enforcement agency to report any
person who dies while being detained, while
under arrest, while being arrested, or while in the
custody of federal law enforcement officers.

Figure 1
Percent of deaths, by type and manner of death,
FY 2016 and FY 2017
Percent
100

Homicide*
Suicide
Accident
Illness

80
60
40
20
0

Arrest-related deaths

Deaths in custody

Note: See appendix table 1 for counts and percentages.
*Homicide is the willful killing of one person by another and
includes justifiable homicide by a law enforcement officer.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement
Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016
and 2017.

Highlights
„„

Federal agencies reported 51 arrest-related
deaths and 468 deaths in custody in fiscal year
(FY) 2016 and 41 arrest-related deaths and
429 deaths in custody in FY 2017.

„„

Homicide (47%) and suicide (42%) accounted
for nearly 90% of federal arrest-related deaths in
FY 2016 and FY 2017 combined.

„„

During the 2-year period, almost all federal
arrest-related decedents were male (97%),
66% were white, and 26% were black.

„„

Of federal arrest-related deaths in FY 2016 and
FY 2017 combined, 55% occurred while law
enforcement was serving an active warrant.

„„

In FY 2016 and FY 2017 combined, the decedent
had or appeared to have a weapon in 78% of
federal arrest-related deaths.

„„

Nearly 90% of federal deaths in custody in
FY 2016 (86%) and FY 2017 (87%) were due
to illness.

„„

In FY 2016 and FY 2017 combined, almost all
persons who died in federal custody were male
(96%), most were white (61%), and about a third
were black (31%).

„„

Almost 3 in 10 persons who died in federal
custody in FY 2016 and FY 2017 were ages 55
to 64.

Bureau of Justice Statistics · Statistical Tables

Federal Deaths in Custody and During
Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables

List of tables
Table 1. Number of deaths, by type of death and federal agency, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 2. Arrest-related deaths, by manner of death and weapon causing death, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 3. Arrest-related deaths, by decedent characteristics, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 4. Arrest-related deaths, by reason for law enforcement contact and alleged decedent offense,
FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 5. Arrest-related deaths, by decedent actions during the incident, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 6. Law enforcement actions during arrest-related deaths, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 7. Law enforcement use of weapons and response during arrest-related deaths, FY 2016 and 2017
Table 8. Deaths in custody, by manner and location of death, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 9. Deaths in custody, by decedent characteristics, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 10. Deaths in custody, by decedent offense and status, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Table 11. Responses to the Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program,
FY 2016 and FY 2017

List of figures
Figure 1. Percent of deaths, by type and manner of death, FY 2016 and FY 2017

List of appendix tables
Appendix table 1. Counts and percentages for figure 1: Percent of deaths, by type and manner of
death, FY 2016 and FY 2017

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

2

Terms and definitions
Cause of death—A description of the specific factors
leading to the termination of the biological functions
that sustain life.
Decedent—A person who died.
Federal arrest-related death—A death that occurs
when the event causing the death (e.g., gunshot
wound, self-inflicted injury, cardiac arrest, fall from a
height, drowning) occurs while the decedent’s freedom
to leave is restricted by federal law enforcement
personnel acting in an official capacity. Arrest-related
deaths include—
„„

any death attributed to any use of force by federal
law enforcement personnel

„„

any death that occurred while the decedent’s
freedom to leave was restricted by federal law
enforcement prior to, during, or following an arrest—
†† while detained for questioning or investigation

(e.g., Terry stop)

†† during the process of apprehension (e.g., pursuit of

criminal suspect or standoff with law enforcement)

†† while in the custody of, or shortly after restraint

by, law enforcement (even if the decedent was not
formally under arrest)

†† during transport to or from law enforcement,

detention, incarceration, or medical facilities

„„

any death while the decedent was confined in
a temporary holding facility designed to hold
detainees for no longer than 72 hours (e.g., booking
center, holding area, or staging location)

„„

any death that occurred during an interaction with
federal law enforcement personnel during response
to medical or mental-health assistance (e.g., response
to suicidal persons).

Federal death in custody—A death that occurs while
the decedent was detained or incarcerated for violating
federal criminal or administrative law and was housed
in any facility designed to detain or incarcerate such
individuals for longer than 72 hours. This includes all
detainee or inmate deaths that occurred in any federal
corrections, pre-trial, or administrative detention facility
or any facility under federal contract to criminally
hold, detain, or imprison or administratively hold or
detain individuals.
Federal detention agency—An organizational unit or
sub-unit of the federal government with the principal
function of detention or incarceration of alleged or
convicted offenders.
Federal law enforcement agency—An organizational
unit or sub-unit of the federal government with
the principal functions of prevention, detection,
and investigation of crime and the apprehension of
alleged offenders.
Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody
Reporting Program—A data collection of all federal
agencies with arrest or detention functions.
Homicide—The willful killing of one person by another.
This includes killing in performance of an official duty or
in circumstances defined by law as legally justifed.
Manner of death—An explanation of how a person
died, typically illustrated by a one-word description of
the intentions and circumstances that led to the stated
medical cause of death (e.g., accident, homicide, illness,
suicide, or undetermined).

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

3

Table 1
Number of deaths, by type of death and federal agency, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total deaths
Department of Homeland Security
Coast Guard
Customs and Border Protection
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Indian Affairsa
National Park Service Rangers
Department of Justice
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosivesb
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigationc
Federal Bureau of Prisonsd
U.S. Marshals Servicee
Amtrak Police
U.S. Capitol Police

2016
Arrest-related deaths Deaths in custody
51
468

2017
Arrest-related deaths Deaths in custody
41
429

1
10
0

0
0
10

0
4
0

0
3
12

4
0

1
0

4
1

1
0

1
1
9
~
25
0
0

0
0
0
412
45
0
0

2
5
7
~
16
1
1

0
0
0
391
22
0
0

~Not applicable. Agency did not report having any arrest functions.
aIncludes one arrest-related death in fiscal year (FY) 2016 also reported by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). This is counted only in the Bureau of
Indian Affairs total.
bIncludes one arrest-related death in FY 2016 also reported by the U.S. Marshals Service. This is counted only in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives total.
cIncludes one arrest-related death in FY 2016 also reported by the U.S. Marshals Service. This is counted only in the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) total.
dIncludes 13 deaths in custody in FY 2016 and 4 in FY 2017 also reported by the U.S. Marshals Service. These are counted only in the BOP totals.
eIncludes one arrest-related death in FY 2016 also reported by the FBI and one death in custody in FY 2016 also reported by the U.S. Postal Inspection
Service. These are counted only in the U.S. Marshals Service total.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Table 2
Arrest-related deaths, by manner of death and weapon causing death, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total arrest-related deaths
Manner of death
Homicideb
Suicide
Accident
Illness
Unknown/missingc
Weapon causing death
Total deaths caused by weapons
Handgun
Rifle/shotgun
Unspecified firearm
Vehicle-involved death
Unknown/missingc

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
51

41
37
4
6
4

46.6%
42.0
4.5
6.8
~

76
36
12
24
4
9

100%
47.4
15.8
31.6
5.3
~

Number
92

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
41

Percenta
100%

23
15
4
5
4

48.9%
31.9
8.5
10.6
~

18
22
0
1
0

43.9%
53.7
0.0
2.4
~

40
11
5
21
3
5

100%
27.5
12.5
52.5
7.5
~

36
25
7
3
1
4

100%
69.4
19.4
8.3
2.8
~

Note: No respondents reported an undetermined manner of death, and no respondents reported a baton, blunt instrument, conducted-energy
weapon (e.g., a Taser or stun gun), knife, edged instrument, or other type of weapon as a weapon causing death. In 2017, one agency indicated that a
weapon caused a death but did not report the type of weapon. This death was excluded from the percentage calculations.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bHomicide is the willful killing of one person by another and includes justifiable homicide by a law enforcement officer.
cIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

4

Table 3
Arrest-related deaths, by decedent characteristics, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total arrest-related deaths
Sex
Male
Female
Race
White
Black
American Indian/Alaska Native
Otherb
Unknown/missingc
Ethnicity
Hispanic
Non-Hispanic
Unknown/missingc
Age
17 or younger
18-24
25-34
35-44
45-54
55-64
65 or older

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
51

89
3

96.7%
3.3

57
22
3
4
6

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
41

48
3

94.1%
5.9

41
0

100%
0

66.3%
25.6
3.5
4.7
~

34
10
1
3
3

70.8%
20.8
2.1
6.3
~

23
12
2
1
3

60.5%
31.6
5.3
2.6
~

18
40
34

31.0%
69.0
~

13
10
28

56.5%
43.5
~

5
30
6

14.3%
85.7
~

1
14
28
26
11
11
1

1.1%
15.2
30.4
28.3
12.0
12.0
1.1

0
12
14
17
3
5
0

0.0%
23.5
27.5
33.3
5.9
9.8
0.0

1
2
14
9
8
6
1

2.4%
4.9
34.1
22.0
19.5
14.6
2.4

Number
92

Percenta
100%

Note: No respondents reported arrest-related deaths of persons who were Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bA race other than White, Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.
cIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

5

Table 4
Arrest-related deaths, by reason for law enforcement contact and alleged decedent offense, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total arrest-related deaths
Reason for initial officer contact with decedent
Service of warrant
General law enforcement response/patrol
Criminal investigation
Inspection
Detention/transport to detention
Other
Unknown/missingb
Decedent’s most serious alleged offensec
Violent
Propertyd
Drugs
Weapons
Public order
Immigration violation
Unknown/missingb

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
51

47
18
15
2
1
3
6

54.7%
20.9
17.4
2.3
1.2
3.5
~

24
1
8
7
7
8
1

43.6%
1.8
14.5
12.7
12.7
14.5
~

Number
92

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
41

Percenta
100%

30
13
2
1
1
0
4

63.8%
27.7
4.3
2.1
2.1
0.0
~

17
5
13
1
0
3
2

43.6%
12.8
33.3
2.6
0.0
7.7
~

6
1
3
2
4
7
0

26.1%
4.3
13.0
8.7
17.4
30.4
~

18
0
5
5
3
1
1

56.3%
0.0
15.6
15.6
9.4
3.1
~

Note: No respondents reported court operations or security and protection as a reason for initial officer contact with the decedent.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
cPercentages are based on the number of decedents who allegedly committed an offense in the events leading up to their death.
dIncludes burglary, larceny, fraud, and other property offenses.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

6

Table 5
Arrest-related deaths, by decedent actions during the incident, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total arrest-related deaths
Actiona
Attempted to escape or flee
from custody
Attempted to physically assault officer(s)
Barricaded self or initiated standoff
Resisted being arrested or handcuffed
Verbally threatened other(s)
Attempted to gain possession of
officer’s weapon
Escaped or fled from custody
Gained possession of officer’s weapon
None of the above
Unknown/missingb
Had or appeared to have a weaponb
Yes
No
Unknown/missingb
Attempted to injure officers or othersc
Yes
No
Unknown or unavailable pending
investigation

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
51

20
16
14
10
7

30.8%
24.6
21.5
15.4
10.8

4
4
2
22

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
41

10
7
6
5
3

28.6%
20.0
17.1
14.3
8.6

10
9
8
5
4

33.3%
30.0
26.7
16.7
13.3

6.2
6.2
3.1
33.8

3
3
2
12

8.6
8.6
5.7
34.3

1
1
0
10

3.3
3.3
0.0
33.3

27

~

16

~

11

~

72
11
9

78.3%
12.0
~

34
10
7

66.7%
19.6
~

38
1
2

92.7%
2.4
~

35
36

38.0%
39.1

19
18

37.3%
35.3

16
18

39.0%
43.9

21

~

14

~

7

~

Number
92

Percenta
100%

Note: No respondents reported an exhibited mental-health problem or exhibited physical disability as an indication of mental or physical state.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Details may not sum to totals because respondents were allowed to select more than
one response for each incident.
bIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Table 6
Law enforcement actions during arrest-related deaths, FY 2016 and FY 2017

Engaged in
motor-vehicle pursuit
Fought/struggled with
decedent
Arrested decedent
Restrained decedent
with equipment
Engaged in foot pursuit
Physically restrained
decedent
Placed decedent in
prone position

Total
Yes
No
Number Percent Number Percent

2016
Yes
No
Number Percent Number Percent

2017
Yes
No
Number Percent Number Percent

16

21.1%

60

78.9%

8

21.6%

29

78.4%

8

20.5%

31

79.5%

12
10

15.6
12.8

65
68

84.4
87.2

8
6

21.1
15.8

30
32

78.9
84.2

4
4

10.3
10.0

35
36

89.7
90.0

8
7

10.4
9.3

69
68

89.6
90.7

6
3

15.4
8.1

33
34

84.6
91.9

2
4

5.3
10.5

36
34

94.7
89.5

5

6.6

71

93.4

5

12.8

34

87.2

0

0.0

37

100

2

2.7

71

97.3

2

5.4

35

94.6

0

0.0

36

100

Note: Percentages exclude instances where respondents answered “unknown” and where respondents did not answer.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

7

Table 7
Law enforcement use of weapons and response during arrest-related deaths, FY 2016 and 2017
Total arrest-related deaths
Officer used a weapon
Yesb,c
Firearmd
Hands/feet/fists
Baton/blunt instrument
Explosive device
Pepper/OC spray
Other
No
Unknown/missinge
Agencies that responded to incidentd
1
2 or more
Unknown/unavailable pending investigation

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
51

53
47
3
2
2
1
3
34
5

60.9%
88.7
5.7
3.8
3.8
1.9
5.7
39.1
~

9
68
15

11.7%
88.3
~

Number
92

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
41

Percenta
100%

27
24
3
1
0
0
1
19
5

58.7%
88.9
11.1
3.7
0.0
0.0
3.7
41.3
~

26
23
0
1
2
1
2
15
0

63.4%
88.5
0.0
3.8
7.7
3.8
7.7
36.6
~

7
32
12

17.9%
82.1
~

2
36
3

5.3%
94.7
~

~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bDetails may not sum to totals because respondents could select more than one response per incident. No respondents reported that officers used a
conducted-energy weapon (e.g., a Taser or stun gun).
cPercentages are based on the number of incidents in which law enforcement used any weapon.
dCounts of officers who discharged a firearm in 2017 are adjusted for conflicting responses where an agency indicated that no officers discharged a
firearm in question 15 but that at least one officer did in question 16.
eIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Table 8
Deaths in custody, by manner and location of death, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total deaths in custody
Manner of death
Illness
Suicide
Accidentb
Homicidec
Other
Unknown/missingd
Location of deathb
Medical center outside of facility
Special medical unit or infirmary
within facility
General housing unit
Segregated/special housing unit
Special mental-health services unit
within facility
During transit
Elsewhere
Unknown/missingd

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
468

763
59
29
28
4
14

86.4%
6.7
3.3
3.2
0.5
~

497

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
429

397
26
20
17
1
7

86.1%
5.6
4.3
3.7
0.2
~

366
33
9
11
3
7

86.7%
7.8
2.1
2.6
0.7
~

58.0%

255

59.6%

242

60.8%

269
36
10

31.4
4.2
1.2

133
18
8

31.1
4.2
1.9

136
18
2

34.2
4.5
0.5

2
1
42
40

0.2
0.1
4.9
~

2
1
11
40

0.5
0.2
2.6
~

0
0
31
0

0.0
0.0
7.8
~

Number
897

Percenta
100%

~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bIncludes accidental alcohol or drug overdoses, injuries to self, and other accidental causes of death.
cHomicide is the willful killing of one person by another and includes justifiable homicide by a law enforcement or corrections officer.
dIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

8

Table 9
Deaths in custody, by decedent characteristics, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total deaths in custody
Sex
Male
Female
Race
White
Black
American Indian/Alaska Native
Asian
Otherb
Unknown/missingc
Ethnicity
Hispanic
Non-Hispanic
Unknown/missingc
Ageb
18-24
25-34
35-44
45-54
55-64
65 or older
Unknown/missingc

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
468

861
36

96.0%
4.0

530
274
25
12
33
23

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
429

451
17

96.4%
3.6

410
19

95.6%
4.4

60.6%
31.4
2.9
1.4
3.8
~

267
144
7
8
32
10

58.3%
31.4
1.5
1.7
7.0
~

263
130
18
4
1
13

63.2%
31.3
4.3
1.0
0.2
~

130
699
68

15.7%
84.3
~

61
352
55

14.8%
85.2
~

69
347
13

16.6%
83.4
~

10
63
130
200
259
234
1

1.1%
7.0
14.5
22.3
28.9
26.1
~

8
31
67
113
137
111
1

1.7%
6.6
14.3
24.2
29.3
23.8
~

2
32
63
87
122
123
0

0.5%
7.5
14.7
20.3
28.4
28.7
~

Number
897

Percenta
100%

Note: Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding. No respondents reported deaths in custody of persons who were Native Hawaiian or other
Pacific Islander.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bA race other than White, Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other Pacific Islander.
cIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

9

Table 10
Deaths in custody, by decedent offense and status, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total deaths in custody
Most serious offense
Homicide or aggravated assault
Robbery
Sex offense
Drugsb
Weapons
Propertyc
Immigration
Supervision violation
Otherd
Unknown/missinge
Legal status at time of death
Convicted, new commitment
Convicted, returned probation/parole
violator
Unconvicted pending criminal case
Unconvicted pending extradition
Other
Unknown/missinge
Time served under current admissionf
1 day
2-5 days
6-10 days
11-30 days
31-180 days
181-365 days
More than 365 days
Unknown/missinge

Total

Percenta
100%

Number
468

36
72
145
291
135
114
33
8
14
49

4.2%
8.5
17.1
34.3
15.9
13.4
3.9
0.9
1.7
~

781

2016

2017

Percenta
100%

Number
429

18
42
65
161
75
62
19
7
7
12

3.9%
9.2
14.3
35.3
16.4
13.6
4.2
1.5
1.5
~

18
30
80
130
60
52
14
1
7
37

4.6%
7.7
20.4
33.2
15.3
13.3
3.6
0.3
1.8
~

92.1%

402

91.4%

379

92.9%

15
44
1
7
49

1.8
5.2
0.1
0.8
~

10
28
0
0
28

2.3
6.4
0.0
0.0
~

5
16
1
7
21

1.2
3.9
0.2
1.7
~

5
14
7
13
81
77
687
13

0.6%
1.6
0.8
1.5
9.2
8.7
77.7
~

1
7
3
9
40
45
357
6

0.2%
1.5
0.6
1.9
8.7
9.7
77.3
~

4
7
4
4
41
32
330
7

0.9%
1.7
0.9
0.9
9.7
7.6
78.2
~

Number
897

Percenta
100%

Note: Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bOf all federal drug offenders, 99% are sentenced for trafficking, but the percentage of trafficking convictions among drug offenders who died in
custody is unknown.
cIncludes burglary, larceny, fraud, and other property offenses.
dIncludes material-witness offenses and crimes classified as “miscellaneous” by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
eIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
fFor BOP deaths, time served is typically post-conviction. For U.S. Marshals Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Bureau of Indian
Affairs deaths, time served is typically pre-conviction.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

10

Methodology
Overview
The Death in Custody Reporting Act (DICRA) requires
the head of each federal law enforcement agency to
submit to the U.S. attorney general, information about
the death of any person who is—
1. detained, under arrest, or in the process of being
arrested by a federal law enforcement officer (or
by a state or local law enforcement officer while
participating in a federal law enforcement operation,
task force, or other capacity)
2. being transported to, incarcerated at, or detained
at any—
a. facility (including immigration or juvenile
facilities) pursuant to a contract with a federal law
enforcement agency
b. state or local government facility used by a federal
law enforcement agency
c. federal correctional or pre-trial detention facility
located within the United States.1
Determining eligibility for reporting to the
Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in
Custody Reporting Program
The act requires annual reporting by fiscal year (FY),
which was October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016 for
the FY 2016 collection cycle and was October 1, 2016
to September 30, 2017 for the FY 2017 collection cycle.
An initial list of 132 federal agencies was developed
from the 2008 Census of Federal Law Enforcement
Officers, agency contacts, and U.S. Department of
Justice internal review.2 The U.S. Office of the Attorney
General sent those agencies a memorandum on
October 5, 2016, asking them to provide a point of
contact (POC) and to confirm by October 20, 2016 that
they had arrest or detention authority.
The Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in
Custody Reporting Program (FDCRP) instruments
were adapted from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’
previous Arrest-Related Deaths program and Deaths
in Custody Reporting Program instruments.3 Each
instrument was modified to align with DICRA.
1Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013, 42 U.S.C. § 13727(a).

Prior to fielding the FDCRP, four senior federal
officials with direct experience and responsibility
for investigations of law enforcement-related deaths
reviewed the draft instruments. The Bureau of Justice
Statistics (BJS) implemented their recommendations
regarding items and response categories. Key areas
of change included the function of protective details
(e.g., U.S. Secret Service) and activities related
to using multi-agency task-force operations. BJS
then programmed the final instruments into a
web-based-portal submission system.
The FDCRP survey consists of three instruments: a
screener (CJ-13), the Arrest-Related Death Incident
Report (CJ-13A), and the Detention/Incarceration
Incident Report (CJ-13B). On the screener, agency
respondents indicated whether they had arrest or
detention authority. If so, respondents indicated
whether they had any deaths to report. If a responding
agency did not have either type of death (occurring
during arrest or occurring while in detention or
custody) during the reporting period, the survey
instructed respondents to report no deaths on
the screener.
For every arrest-related death, respondents completed
a CJ-13A form. The CJ-13A instrument included
questions about the incident, such as location,
decedent characteristics (e.g., demographics and
actions prior to and during the incident), and law
enforcement characteristics (e.g., actions during
the incident, interactions with the decedent, and
weapon use).
For every death in custody, respondents completed
a CJ-13B form. Similar to the CJ-13A, the CJ-13B
instrument included questions about the incident, such
as facility information, decedent characteristics (e.g.,
demographics and incarceration details), and facility
staff characteristics (e.g., actions during the incident).
Due to unique functions and situations, the arrest
and custody incident-forms requested different
information. For example, because law enforcement
use of force often accounted for arrest-related deaths,
the incident form included questions about the type
and extent of force applied during the incident.
Additionally, because most deaths in custody were
due to illness, the incident form included types of
treatment provided for identified medical conditions.

2See Federal Law Enforcement Officers, 2008 (NCJ 238250, BJS,

June 2012).
3For information on the Arrest-Related Deaths program and
Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, see the BJS website.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

11

Identifying and excluding duplicate records
Determining custody may be complicated by dual law
enforcement and detention functions and overlapping
jurisdiction with state and local law enforcement
authorities. Duplicate death records may occur due to
overlapping correctional populations, jurisdictions,
and functions (arrest and detention) within an agency.
Agencies participating in the same task force may also
submit duplicate information. To identify duplicate
records, BJS matched records based on decedent name,
date of birth, date of death, and agency or correctional
facility. For this program, duplicate records were
relatively rare (21 of 989 total deaths), and all were
resolved by reviewing notes provided in the survey by
responding agencies, by examining news reports of the
incident, or by contacting both agencies.
Data collection and response rate
BJS emailed POCs during December 2016 and
November 2017 and directed them to the FDCRP
web-based survey-submission portal. Each POC
received a login name, password, and instructions.
The initial screener form required agencies to enter
the number of arrest-related deaths and deaths in
custody that occurred under their jurisdiction during
FY 2016 and FY 2017 and the decedents’ names. Once
each decedent was identified, POCs were instructed to
provide incident information for each death.
Data-collection staff offered respondents different
reporting options to reduce respondent burden. For
the FY 2016 collection, most (87%) respondents
completed the survey via web, and for the 2017 data
collection, 79% responded via web. Others submitted
data via file-transfer. Data-collection staff uploaded
these files into the database and matched file responses
with instrument responses. Other agencies indicated
via telephone that they had no deaths to report. For
those respondents, project staff entered data into the
web portal on the agency’s behalf.
For FY 2016, BJS determined that 25 of the
132 contacted agencies were out-of-scope, and for
FY 2017, BJS determined that 20 of the 137 potentially

Table 11
Responses to the Federal Law Enforcement Agency
Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, FY 2016 and
FY 2017
Total agencies contacted to determine
eligibility
Determined to be out-of-scope
Based on initial contact
Based on survey response
Did not respond or provide point of contact
Eligible agencies surveyed
Responded
Reported law enforcement function
Reported any arrest-related death
Reported incarceration/detention function
Reported any death in custody
Did not respond

2016

2017

132
25
13
12
22
85
82
81
7
68
4
3

137
20
~
~
~
117
108
95
8
89
5
9

~Not applicable.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency
Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

in-scope agencies were out-of-scope (table 11). In
2016, 85 eligible agencies provided a POC. In total,
82 agencies responded to the survey in 2016 and had a
law enforcement, detention, or incarceration function
during the study period, including 81 agencies with law
enforcement functions and 68 agencies with detention
or incarceration functions. Almost all agencies (67)
that had detention or incarceration functions also
had law enforcement functions (not shown in tables).
Fourteen agencies had law enforcement functions only
(not shown in tables).
Overall, the 2016 FDCRP yielded a response rate of
96% from surveyed agencies and collected information
on 51 arrest-related deaths and 468 deaths in custody.
However, 22 potentially in-scope agencies did not
respond to the attorney general’s initial request for a
POC. If all these agencies were determined to be in
scope, the response rate would be approximately 77%.
Of the 117 eligible agencies in 2017, 108 responded
to the survey, for an overall response rate of 92%.
Ninety-five of these agencies reported having a law
enforcement function, and 89 reported having a
detention or incarceration function.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

12

Appendix Table 1
Counts and percentages for figure 1: Percent of deaths, by type and manner of death, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Total
Number Percenta
Total deaths
92
100%
Homicideb
41
46.6
Suicide
37
42.0
Accident
4
4.5
Illness
6
6.8
Other causes
0
0.0
Unknown/missingc
4
~

Arrest-related deaths
2016
2017
Number Percenta Number Percenta
51
100%
41
100%
23
48.9
18
43.9
15
31.9
22
53.7
4
8.5
0
0.0
5
10.6
1
2.4
0
0.0
0
0.0
4
~
0
~

Total
Number Percenta
897
100%
28
3.2
59
6.7
29
3.3
763
86.4
4
0.5
14
~

Deaths in custody
2016
Number Percenta
468
100%
17
3.7
26
5.6
20
4.3
397
86.1
1
0.2
7
~

2017
Number Percenta
429
100%
11
2.6
33
7.8
9
2.1
366
86.7
3
0.7
7
~

~Excluded from percentage calculations.
aPercentages are calculated using deaths with valid information. Percentages may not sum to 100% due to rounding.
bHomicide is the willful killing of one person by another and includes justifiable homicide by a law enforcement or corrections officer.
cIncludes deaths where the investigation was pending at the time of the data collection.
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Federal Law Enforcement Agency Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, fiscal years 2016 and 2017.

Federal Deaths in Custody and During Arrest, 2016-2017 – Statistical Tables | December 2020

13

The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the
principal federal agency responsible for measuring crime, criminal
victimization, criminal offenders, victims of crime, correlates of crime,
and the operation of criminal and civil justice systems at the federal, state,
tribal, and local levels. BJS collects, analyzes, and disseminates reliable
statistics on crime and justice systems in the United States, supports
improvements to state and local criminal justice information systems, and
participates with national and international organizations to develop and
recommend national standards for justice statistics. Jeffrey H. Anderson is
the director.
This report was written by Connor Brooks, Kevin M. Scott, and Anthony
Whyde. Elizabeth Davis and Emily Buehler verified the report.
Eric Hendrixson and Edrienne Su edited the report. Carrie Epps-Carey
produced the report.
December 2020, NCJ 252838

Office of Justice Programs
Building Solutions • Supporting Communities • Advancing Justice
www.ojp.gov

 

 

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