After reviewing the provisions of the federal Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA), this report addresses why its requirements are important, who is required to report mandated data, and the data that must be reported.
Enacted in 2000, the DCRA requires the U.S. Attorney General to collect data on the death of any person who is under arrest, is enroute to be incarcerated, or is incarcerated in a municipal or county jail, state prison, or other local or state correctional facility, including any juvenile facility. In 2014, the DCRA was reauthorized and a new provision was added that requires reporting the name of the “law enforcement agency that detained, arrested, or was in the process of arresting the deceased.” In 2019, the U.S. Justice Department’s (DOJ’s) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) required State Administering Agencies (SAAs) to collect mandated DCRA data quarterly from local entities and state agencies to be submitted to BJA. Federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), must continue to report annually deaths that occur while in their custody. In discussing why DCRA requirements are important, this report indicates that the identification of the prevalence and circumstances of the deaths of persons while under the management of criminal justice agencies is crucial to understanding the circumstances of these deaths and developing policies that may help to prevent them. Five additional online resources relevant to DCRA compliance are provided.