Incarceration, Community Health, and Racial Disparities

  • Dumont D
  • Allen S
  • Brockmann B
 et al. 
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Several recent studies have shown that the racial disparities in U.S. mortality nearly disappear in prisons. We review the social determinants of the recent epidemic of incar- ceration, especially the war on drugs, and describe inmate morbidity and mortality within the context of U.S. health disparities. Incarceration provides an important public health opportunity to address health disparities by accessing a high-need, medically-underserved, largely non-White population, but it has also been associated with poor long-term health outcomes. Viewing incarceration within the context of community health and community life shows that the more equitable mortality rates among inmates are not evidence of the beneficial effects of incarceration so much as an indictment of disparities in the commu- nity at large. Because people of color are incarcerated far more frequently than Whites, the experience may ultimately exacerbate rather than mitigate health disparities.

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  • Dora M. Dumont

  • Scott A. Allen

  • Bradley W. Brockmann

  • Nicole E. Alexander

  • Josiah D. Rich

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