After Calling for Help for 2 Hours, Woman Dies in Cell
English prisons are 'violent and dangerous places'
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 23, 2016 1:19 PM CDT
Bronzefield prison.   (Wikimedia Commons)

(Newser) – An inmate at a privately run prison in England was found dead in her cell Tuesday night of an apparent prescription drug overdose. But before she died, the Guardian reports, Natasha Chin, 41, rang an alarm bell in her cell for about two-and-a-half hours with no response from the staff at Bronzefield prison. Chin had been released in April, but was reportedly recalled to prison earlier this month. It is believed she was taking the medication to help her recuperate following a major surgery. Sodexo, which receives more than $84,000 per year per inmate to run the prison, confirmed that the death occurred and called it a "tragedy". But it would not say if Chin had been designated an "at risk" inmate. For observers in England, Chin's death serves to highlight mounting problems within the country's prison system.

“Too many prisoners are dying in custody," academic and former inmate Alex Cavendish tells the Guardian. "A significant proportion of these deaths might have been avoided if appropriate care, including mental health support, had been in place and proper assessment procedures followed." According to a report released this year, prison assaults in 2015 were up 27% over the year before; incidents of self-harm were up 24%. There's "a simple and unpalatable truth about far too many of our prisons," the country's chief prison inspector tells the BBC. "They have become unacceptably violent and dangerous places." Earlier this year, per the Independent, Bronzefield prison came under fire for distributing tents and sleeping bags to inmates being released, rather than arranging for housing. (In the US, inmates are dying of heroin withdrawal.)