Being a Black male today means half of you will just as soon die in jail as on the outside according to a new study.
It turns out that if you are a black man locked up you get to ‘statistically’ live a longer life than had you been living on the outside. But why?
According to Hung-En Sung of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NY this has more to do with the fact that “Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans.”
Which is akin to saying once you make it on the inside as an impoverished individual, which one has to assume carries within its parameters many colored and Hispanic folk then you get to finally get to have access to medical care, education than you might have had on the outside. What you also get to have is less likelihood of being exposed to violent injury or murder.
dailymail.co.uk: The research involved about 100,000 men between the ages of 20 and 79 who were held in North Carolina prisons at some point between 1995 and 2005.
Sixty per cent of those men were black.
Researchers linked prison and state health records to determine which of the inmates died, and of what causes, during their prison stay.
Then they compared those figures with expected deaths in men of the same age and race in the general population.
Less than one per cent of men died during incarceration, and there was no difference between black and white inmates.
But outside prison walls, blacks have a higher rate of death at any given age than whites.
And what did prisoners tend to die from? Well it seems the same things as people who are not locked up:
As in the general population, cancer and heart and blood vessel diseases were the most common cause of death among inmates – accounting for more than half of deaths.
White prisoners died of cardiovascular diseases as often as expected and died of cancer slightly more often than non-prisoners.
Black inmates, by contrast, were between 30 and 40 per cent less likely to die of those causes than those who weren’t incarcerated.
30-40% less likely to die simply by virtue of being incarcerated?
They were also less likely to die of diabetes, alcohol and drug-related causes, airway diseases, accidents, suicide and murder than black men not in prison.
All told, their risk of death at any age was only half that of men living in the community, Reuters reports.
Is this to imply living in the black community on the outside is frought with peril? Especially if that community is on the lower income scale and lacking education? What about if I am a Caucasian and also find my self similarly economically impoverished?
For white men, the overall death rate was slightly higher, by about 12 per cent, than in the general population, with some of that attributed to higher rates of death from infection, including HIV and hepatitis.
So for a white man, being locked up has a tendency to lead to an earlier death? How perverse then that for a black male it signifies up to 50% the opposite.
But there are some caveats with the study:
Dr. David Rosen, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
But, he added: ‘It’s important to remember that there are many possible negative consequences of imprisonment – for example, broken relationships, loss of employment opportunities, and greater entrenchment in criminal activity – that are not reflected in our study findings but nevertheless have an important influence on prisoners’ lives and their overall health.’
The moral of the lesson? Crime doesn’t pay, but it may provide you a longer life on the inside if you come from a disadvantaged group. But then why don’t we just ensure more of equitable society to counter this? Or does it have nothing to do with socio economics and has more to do with the pre disposition of an individual as they navigate the terrain? Assuming navigating impoverished circumstances is less of a chore than navigating ivory surroundings…