When a person dies behind bars, the public often only knows about a person’s criminal charges and in some cases, the cause of death. This In Memoriam project attempts to provide a fuller picture of what families, friends, and communities lose when a person dies behind bars. The memorials below were written by Loyola Law students based on research, public records requests, and interviews when possible. We are thankful for the families and friends who agreed to participate in this project.
Here is what we have learned so far: many of the people who died were parents of young children. All of the people who died belonged to someone: their parents, their siblings, their children, their partners, and/or their friends. None of the people who died were sentenced to death by a court. Many were avid football fans. Some were talented artists and writers. Some of the memorials also reveal how people struggled with prior trauma, substance abuse, and mental health challenges prior to their death. In at least one case, the only clue about the life of the person is their criminal record. Together, these memorials remind us that what happens behind bars matters.