Saturday, July 16, 2011


Well, I’ll be damned! It appears that black men are safer, live longer and are healthier if they are in prison instead of back in the hood. On the other hand, white men are more likely to die in prison than on the outside. Now all those people screaming about the disproportionate number of blacks in prison can all shut up.


Mail Online
July 15, 2011

Black men are half as likely to die at any given time if they're in prison than if they are in the outside world.

A new study of North Carolina inmates shows that black prisoners are better protected against alcohol and drug-related deaths, as well as lethal accidents and certain chronic diseases.

White men on the whole are 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.

Hung-En Sung, of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said: 'Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans.

'Typically, prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission,' said Mr Sung, who wasn't involved in the new study.

The research involved about 100,000 men between the ages of 20 and 79 who were held in North Carolina prisons at some point between 1995 and 2005.

Sixty per cent 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 per cent 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.

Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said: 'What's very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalise 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 neighbourhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities.

'If it can be done in prison, then certainly it can happen outside of prison,' said Patterson, who wasn't involved in the study.

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 per cent 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.

All told, their risk of death at any age was only half that of men living in the community, Reuters reports.

For white men, the overall death rate was slightly higher, by about 12 per cent, than in the general population, with some of that attributed to higher rates of death from infection, including HIV and hepatitis.

When the researchers broke prisoners up by age, death rates were only higher for white prisoners age 50 and older.

'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.

But, he added: 'It's important to remember that there are many possible negative consequences of imprisonment - for example, broken relationships, loss of employment opportunities, and greater entrenchment in criminal activity - that are not reflected in our study findings but nevertheless have an important influence on prisoners' lives and their overall health.'

For Mr 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.

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