A study by a criminologist at Georgia State University finds that men who have been released from prison are more than twice as likely to die prematurely than men who have not served in prison. The results are of particular note to African Americans because Blacks are more than six times as likely as Whites to be in prison. African Americans make up about 1 million of the 2.5 million people currently incarcerated.
The study found that former prisoners are more likely to die than other men from infectious and respiratory diseases and from homicides. William Alex Pridemore, Distinguished University Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University and the author of the study, states that stress and increased exposure to disease in the prison population are among the causes.
“We know that stress can weaken immune systems,” Professor Pridemore said. “And in a very unpleasant twist of events, at the precise moment when these men are most vulnerable to a compromised immune system due to stress – that is, when they are incarcerated – they are most exposed to a host of communicable diseases whose rates are much higher in the prison population.”
The paper, “The Mortality Penalty of Incarceration: Evidence From a Population-Based Case-Control Study of Working Age Males,” was published on the website of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. It may be accessed here.