Despite increased attention to the links between the criminal justice system and health, how criminal justice contacts shape health and contribute to racial health disparities remains to be better understood. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (N = 5,488) and several analytic techniques—including a quasi-treatment–control design, treatment-weighting procedures, and mediation analyses—this study examines how criminal justice contacts shape inflammatory and depressive risk and contribute to black–white health gaps. Findings revealed that incarceration is associated with increased C-reactive protein and depressive risk, particularly for individuals who experienced long durations of incarceration. Arrests are also associated with mental health, and mediation analyses showed that racial disparities in arrests and incarceration were drivers of black–white gaps in depressive symptoms. Together, this study provides new evidence of the role of the criminal justice system in shaping health and patterning black–white health gaps from adolescence through early adulthood.
Boen, C. E. (2020). Criminal Justice Contacts and Psychophysiological Functioning in Early Adulthood: Health Inequality in the Carceral State. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 61(3), 290–306. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022146520936208