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​Death in Custody Reporting

The Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2013 requires state administering agencies (PCCD) to report the deaths of persons in the custody of state prisons, local jails, and during the process of arrest to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). 

A reportable death is defined as "the death of any person who is detained, under arrest, or is in the process of being arrested, is en route to be incarcerated, or is incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, State prison, State-run boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the State, any State or local contract facility, or other local or State correctional facility (including any juvenile facility)." Public Law No: 113-242 (12/18/2014)

For each reportable death, agencies should complete the BJA Death in Custody Reporting Form and submit it to PCCD.

Submit completed form to PCCD by Email to: ra-dic@pa.gov

Reportable Death Occurring: Submit Form to PCCD by:
October 1 to December 31January 15th
January 1 to March 31April 15th
April 1 to June 30July 15th
July 1 to September 30October 15th

Additional information can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions Below.

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Why are agencies required to report Deaths in Custody?

​The federal Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) of 2013 requires states to report all deaths occurring in state prisons, local jails, and in the process of arrest. Beginning October 1, 2019, all reportable deaths should be reported to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

Based on the legislation, you must report any death that occurs when a law enforcement officer (LEO) is responding to a call or a decedent's freedom to leave was restricted by a LEO prior to, during, or following an arrest, regardless of the cause of death.

To whom are deaths in custody reported?

​Report all deaths occurring in custody or during interaction with law enforcement personnel and deaths in detention centers, jails, and prisons to PCCD beginning October 1, 2019.

Who is responsible for reporting deaths in custody?

​The agency who has custody of the decedent at the time of death is responsible for reporting the death to the PCCD. For example, if the person was held in a state prison, the prison will report the death; if the person had been arrested and was in a police department vehicle at the time of death, the police department is responsible for submitting the report.

What deaths need to be reported?

​The legislation defines it as "the death of any person who is detained, under arrest, or is in the process of being arrested, is en route to be incarcerated, or is incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, State prison, State-run boot camp prison, boot camp prison that is contracted out by the State, any State or local contract facility, or other local or State correctional facility (including any juvenile facility)."

What are some examples of a reportable death?

​A few examples of reportable deaths are:

  • Law enforcement is in pursuit of arresting or detaining an individual and the individual suffers a sudden death. (e.g., heart attack, hit by motor vehicle, drowns).
  • An individual (including juveniles) is being held in a jail or detention facility and dies from any cause.
  • Law enforcement responds to a medical or mental health call and the individual dies after the officer arrives.
  • Use of force by law enforcement.
How does an agency report a death in custody?

​The agency needs to complete the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) form BJA Death in Custody Reporting Form DCR-1A and submit it to PCCD by email at ra-dic@pa.gov.  PCCD is responsible for collecting information on all deaths in custody for Pennsylvania and will submit all reports to BJA on a quarterly basis.

When does an agency report a death in custody?

​Agencies are encouraged to report deaths in custody soon after each incident, but are required to submit on a quarterly basis:

  • October 1st – December 31st report due January 15th
  • January 1st – March 31st report due April 15th
  • April 1st – June 30th report due July 15th
  • July 1st – September 30th report due October 15th
What if an agency has no deaths to report?

​If there were no reportable deaths during a quarter, no action is needed.

Who can answer additional questions?

​Please contact Kathy Clarke at PCCD at 717-265-8452 or email ra-dic@pa.gov.