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July 15, 2011

"Black men survive longer in prison than out: study"

The title of this post is the headline of this Reuters article about a new study that seems sure to get significant attention.  Here are the details:

Black men are half as likely to die at any given time if they're in prison than if they aren't, suggests a new study of North Carolina inmates.  

The black prisoners seemed to be especially protected against alcohol- and drug-related deaths, as well as lethal accidents and certain chronic diseases.  But that pattern didn't hold for white men, who on the whole were slightly more likely to die in prison than outside, according to findings published in Annals of Epidemiology.

Researchers say it's not the first time a study has found lower death rates among certain groups of inmates -- particularly disadvantaged people, who might get protection against violent injuries and murder.

"Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans," said Hung-En Sung of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.     "Typically, prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission," Sung, who wasn't involved in the new study, told Reuters Health by email.

The new study involved about 100,000 men between age 20 and 79 who were held in North Carolina prisons at some point between 1995 and 2005.  Sixty percent of those men were black. Researchers linked prison and state health records to determine which of the inmates died, and of what causes, during their prison stay.  Then they compared those figures with expected deaths in men of the same age and race in the general population.

Less than one percent of men died during incarceration, and there was no difference between black and white inmates.  But outside prison walls, blacks have a higher rate of death at any given age than whites.  "What's very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalize or diminish these health inequalities that you see by race inside a place like prison, it should also be that in places like a poor neighborhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities," said Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee....

As in the general population, cancer and heart and blood vessel diseases were the most common cause of death among inmates -- accounting for more than half of deaths. White prisoners died of cardiovascular diseases as often as expected and died of cancer slightly more often than non-prisoners.

Black inmates, by contrast, were between 30 and 40 percent less likely to die of those causes than those who weren't incarcerated. They were also less likely to die of diabetes, alcohol- and drug-related causes, airway diseases, accidents, suicide and murder than black men not in prison.

"For some populations, being in prison likely provides benefits in regards to access to healthcare and life expectancy," said study author Dr. David Rosen, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill....     For Rosen, one of the main messages from the study is the need to make the world outside of prison walls safer, and to make sure people living there have adequate access to healthcare.

The underlying study appealing in the Annals of Epidemiology that is the basis of this article is available via this link 

July 15, 2011 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


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OK. When all is said and done, is this a recommendation for African-Americans to commit more crimes to live a longer, healthier life? Please understand that I say this with an incredibly straight face, but seriously, what would the author like to purport, and what would the author recommend in changes?

Posted by: Eric Knight | Jul 15, 2011 2:47:35 PM

The statement attributed to Evelyn Patterson is one of the more inane comments I have read. Prison-for the most part-is a controlled environment. Inner cities are anything but controlled environments.

Posted by: mjs | Jul 15, 2011 3:29:00 PM

This article can't be right. I mean, gads, we've been told so many times, and so indignantly, that imprisonment in the USA is merely the outcropping of barbarism.

It's an odd form of barbarism that makes an entire ethnic group healthier than they otherwise would be. But, hey, look, I wouldn't want to interrupt the "America Stinks" refrain.....and I'm sure it won't take long for it to resume.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 15, 2011 4:14:45 PM

The link to the article seems to be missing. It would be very interesting if deaths from cancer and heart disease are lower in prison.

Since everybody dies of *something*, a reduction in one cause will usually cause an increase in another, tho because of increased lifespan generally it will not show up untl some years have passed.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Jul 15, 2011 7:15:10 PM

Incapacitation saves the lives and economic costs of victims of crimes. and now it saves the lives of criminals.

The feminist lawyer has arranged to have an excess of 5000 murders of black males a year, devaluing the black male murder victim during the death penalty sentencing, by deterring the police through ruinous litigation, by stopping all criticism of the criminal, as racism. Now, that number is reduced in prison, there is an irresistible movement to decrease the prison population, so that the death rates from all causes may rise again for black males.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 16, 2011 12:39:35 PM


Here is some of the "barbarism" I saw first hand.

1) Former homeless people getting "3 hots and a cot" for the first time in their lives but filing grievance after grievance because they could not control the thermostat on the housing unit.

2) A gym that you would pay $100s per month to have a membership in (free weights, nautilus, etc.).

3) Softball, basketball, soccer, flag football leagues.

4) Cable TV

5) School, drug, alcohol, sex offender counseling.

6) Holiday family picnics

7) Virtually free healthcare, including hormone therapy (yes, men with breasts in male prisons).

Now, I hope you can understand the great hardship these poor souls endure.

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Jul 17, 2011 5:16:27 PM

TarlsQtr --

After years and years of hearing from numerous Lefties about how America's prisons are barbaric, now, in the face of this article, they seem to be on vacation!

Lan' sakes alive!!!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 17, 2011 6:05:24 PM

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