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US mass incarceration damages health and shortens lives

[ – July 2019]

The USA has a problem with incarceration. Since 1970, the number of people incarcerated has climbed from less than 500 000 to 2·3 million. Despite only 5% of the world’s population living in the country, the USA imprisons nearly 25% of all incarcerated people globally; the highest rate of imprisonment in the world. The sheer scale of imprisonment in the USA and its unequal burden on people from minority and poor backgrounds raises concerns about its impact on the health and wellbeing of the national population. While black Americans account for only 13% of the country’s population, they make up 40% of its prison population, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. A black man born from 2001 onward has a one in three chance of being incarcerated in his lifetime; this compares with one in 17 for their white counterparts. For black women the chance is one in 18, compared with one in 111 for white women. People from poor communities are also far more likely to go to prison.

Being in prison worsens several health outcomes and might even drive the spread of disease. Prisoners have a higher incidence of psychological disorders and face higher risk of suicide, self-harm, violence, and violation. Rates of infection with HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis are higher in prisons, where often both infection prevention measures and treatment are poor. According to the think tank Prison Policy Initiative, even when treatment is available, incarcerated people face prohibitive co-payments for health services.

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  1. norman

    God bless our law and order enforcement has a common saying..”an innocent person is just someone who hasn’t been caught yet”..

  2. Tim in WI

    Mass incarceration does not recognize the full scope of the problem. A half a million are registered long after sentence complete. Long term parolees and probation folks are trafficked to and from county faculities. Ripple effects of a well organized plan, plain and simple – but how often to former racket politicians get popped and held responsible for decades old infractions on civil liberty. DNA exoneration downplays this obvious system defect by focussing on $ for wrongful conviction. But what to do?

  3. Jack

    You know the whole registry scheme strikes me as really similar to slavery. Only difference is the people in charge this time don’t seem too worried about a full scale revolt. Maybe it’s time they’re given a reason to be.

    • ReadyToFight

      Couple good points. I’ve mentioned before how this whole thing feels as like a form of human trafficking as it also aligns with slavery to the State. I don’t know that I can articulate either argument well enough to make an impact.
      I will say that I agree with your last statement and will add that We Need To Get Organized.
      They want to put us all in the same boat well, let’s rock the boat…

    • Tim in WI

      Precisely because it is slavery- to a database property as opposed to a cotton plantation property. Each property thrives on a commodity. Personal data rather than cotton, or hemp as a marketable product. Free men are paid to maintain databases.

      Today parents are almost forced to purchase identity protection for their children.

      You can thank your leadership for it. The database is a far more serious threat to liberty than any man.

      Looking forward to confronting WI SOR AGENT @FTR!

    • Billy Jack

      Yes I totally agree!

  4. Eric

    We are going to see how blind the justice system is. Lauren Book, Florida state senator and daughter of the notorious Ron Book are the pair who take delight in forcing people on the registry to live under bridges without sanitation. Well, she just happen to be given the case for J. E*****n. Turns out she has already received numerous very intimidating threats telling her she better drop this case if she knows what is good for her. Well, well, seems the Books are facing an adversary who won’t passively give up all they ever had and go live in a Bookville. Let’s see how this plays out when the prey is more politically and powerfully connected than they are.

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