Study: Black men live longer in prison than out — thanks partly to free health care
A study by North Carolina researchers suggests that black men in prison live longer than their black counterparts outside prison, in part because they have better access to health care. The same study indicates imprisoned black men live longer than imprisoned white men.
“Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans,” Hung-En Sung, an associate professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, told Reuters Health. Sung was not part of the study.
“Typically,” Sung says, “prison-based care is more comprehensive than what inmates have received prior to their admission.”
The study, led by Dr. David Rosen at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, looked at North Carolina prison records and state death records from 1995 to 2005. Then it examined the cause of death and death rates among 100,000 black and white male prisoners 20 to 79 years old, and compared them with black and white counterparts outside prison.
The researchers’ conclusion: Black inmates were 30 percent to 40 percent less likely to die of cancer and heart and blood vessel diseases as blacks who weren’t behind bars, and they also were less likely to die of diabetes, alcohol- and drug-related ailments, accidents, suicide and murder, according to the study.
For imprisoned white men, the death rate was 12 percent higher than non-imprisoned white men, although when analyzed by age, death rates were higher only for white prisoners 50 and older, according to the study.
Obviously, black men would prefer to take their chances on their health living outside a prison, so the study pointed out that the negative consequences of being behind bars far outweigh the positive consequences.