Do black men get better health care behind bars?

Monique W. Morris, The Grio | June 30, 2011

More than 850,000 black men and women are currently incarcerated in federal or state prisons, or in local jails throughout the U.S. The conditions of confinement have caused deep wounds for African-Americans, compromising the healthy development of communities and causing collateral damages such as severed family relationships, decreased parental responsibility over children, loss of employability and wages, housing and employment discrimination, and disenfranchisement, among others.

Still, despite the numerous negative effects that have been associated with incarceration, could prison also be associated with a positive life outcome for black men?

research study published by Vanderbilt University sociologist Evelyn Patterson in 2010 shows state prisons are having a positive effect on the mortality rates of black men. Her study estimates the rates of working-age prisoners and non-prisoners by gender and race, and finds that while prison has a “detrimental health impact on most groups,” incarcerated black males at every age experience death rates that are lower than for black males outside of prison.

Between 1996 and 1998, black men not in prison lost almost twice as many years of life between the ages of 18 and 65 as incarcerated black men. In contrast, there was only a slight difference in the mortality rates of incarcerated white men when compared to their non-incarcerated white counterparts.  (Read more)