Hip Hop Caucus Launches ‘Official Ignorance: The Death in Custody Podcast’

New investigative podcast chronicles stories of people who have died in custody and emerging efforts for accountability

WASHINGTON – Today, Hip Hop Caucus announces the launch of the new, groundbreaking podcast series, ‘Official Ignorance: The Death in Custody Podcast.’ Hosted by expert forensic pathologist Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. and human rights scholar Dr. Jay Aronson, ‘Official Ignorance’ aims to shed light on individuals who have died in law enforcement custody and outlines a practical and achievable system for accurately recording and investigating these deaths. ‘Official Ignorance’ is a project of Hip Hop Caucus and is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and several other digital streaming platforms. 

The U.S. government significantly undercounts the number of people who die in law enforcement custody each year. Racial discrimination and violence against Black, Brown and Indigenous people in the criminal legal system have been increasingly discussed in recent years; however, deaths in custody remain a lesser-explored aspect of these systemic issues. ‘Official Ignorance’ delves deep into the underlying causes, identifying and examining areas where transparency and reform are desperately needed.

“It’s about time! Being able to talk about this very important issue has been a dream of mine for my entire career,” said ‘Official Ignorance’ podcast co-host and Howard University Chair of Pathology Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. “Hip Hop Caucus has been a phenomenal partner in allowing us to tell the story of death in custody in the United States. Jay and I are able to give a voice to the voiceless while sharing more about ourselves and how we got into this work. I hope that this is just the beginning and Season 2 will be even better.”

In each episode, Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Aronson engage in thought-provoking conversations with experts, researchers, activists, and individuals who have personally experienced the impact of deaths in custody. Through stories, data, expert analysis, and hip-hop themes, they seek to raise awareness, empower listeners, and drive forward efforts for reform.

“We want listeners to come away angry about the crisis of deaths in law enforcement custody, but also informed about what they can do to expose the problem, and hopeful that we can achieve a better, less violent, and less punitive world through our collective action and advocacy,” said ‘Official Ignorance’ podcast co-host and Carnegie Mellon University professor Dr. Jay Aronson. “Having the chance to talk to Roger regularly and reflect on the work we’ve been doing over the past several years was an incredible experience. I hope that listeners have the opportunity not just to learn from us, but also to appreciate our friendship, our mutual love for hip hop and the role that its played in our lives, and our shared desire to shine a light on the deadly toll that the criminal legal system takes on the American people, especially in Black communities and other marginalized or under-resourced communities.”

Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr. and Dr. Jay Aronson’s new book ‘Deaths in Custody,’ published by Johns Hopkins University Press, also releases today.

“We decided to create the podcast to give readers insight into what motivated us as people and as scholars to write the book, and to highlight the crucial role that hip hop has played in setting the stage for this project,” continued Dr. Jay Aronson.

Roger Mitchell Jr., MD, is a highly respected forensic pathologist, renowned for his expertise in examining the causes and circumstances of deaths. He is a professor and chair of pathology at the Howard University College of Medicine and has served as the Chief Medical Examiner and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice of Washington, D.C. He is the author of The Price of Freedom: A Son’s Journey.

Jay Aronson, PhD, is the founder and director of the Center for Human Rights Science at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is a professor of science, technology, and society in the Department of History. He specializes in human rights and criminal justice and is the author of Who Owns the Dead? The Science and Politics of Death at Ground Zero and Genetic Witness: Science, Law, and Controversy in the Making of DNA Profiling.

To subscribe to ‘Official Ignorance: The Death in Custody Podcast’ and for detailed episode information, visit www.officialignorance.com


About Official Ignorance

‘Official Ignorance: The Death in Custody Podcast’ is a groundbreaking podcast hosted by renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Roger Mitchell Jr., MD, and human rights scholar Dr. Jay Aronson, PhD,. The podcast delves deep into the significant underreporting of deaths in custody, the overwhelming racial disparities, and the practical solutions for reporting and investigating these deaths. Join Dr. Mitchell and Dr. Aronson as they engage with experts, activists, and those directly impacted to explore how we can end deaths in custody. ‘Official Ignorance’ is a project of Hip Hop Caucus.

About Hip Hop Caucus

Formed in 2004, the Hip Hop Caucus (HHC) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that leverages Hip Hop culture to encourage young people to participate in the democratic process. Through a collaborative leadership network, HHC addresses core issues affecting underserved communities. HHC programs and campaigns support solution-driven community organizing led by today’s young leaders.