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Years of Life Lost to Prison: Racial and Gender Gradients in the United States of America

Harm Reduction Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2008

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-53

17 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2008 Last revised: 4 Mar 2008

Robert S. Hogg

Simon Fraser University

Eric F. Druyts

B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Scott Burris

Center for Public Health Law Research, Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Ernest Drucker

Montefiore Medical Center; Yeshiva University - Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health

Steffanie A. Strathdee

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health

Abstract

Background: The United States has the highest rate of imprisonment of any country in the world. African Americans and Hispanics comprise a disproportionately large share of the prison population. We applied a prison life expectancy to specify differences in exposure to imprisonment by gender and race at the population level.

Methods: The impact of imprisonment on life expectancy in the United States was measured for each year from 2000 to 2004, and then averaged. Using the Sullivan method, prison and prison-free life expectancies were estimated by dividing the years lived in each age range of the life table into these two states using prevalence of imprisonment by gender and race.

Results: African American males can expect to spend on average 3.09 years in prison or jail over their lifetime and Hispanic and Caucasian males can spend on average 1.06 and 0.50 years, respectively. African American females, on the other hand, can expect to spend on average 0.23 years in these institutions and Hispanic and Caucasian females can expect to spend on average 0.09 and 0.05 years, respectively. Overall, African American males, the highest risk group, can expect to spend on average 61.80 times longer in prison or jail as compared to Caucasian women, the lowest risk group.

Conclusion: There are clear gender and racial gradients in life expectancy spent in prison in the United States. Future research needs to examine how current imprisonment practice in the United States may influence population health and health disparities.

Keywords: race, incarceration, racial disparities

Suggested Citation

Hogg, Robert S. and Druyts, Eric F. and Burris, Scott and Drucker, Ernest and Strathdee, Steffanie A., Years of Life Lost to Prison: Racial and Gender Gradients in the United States of America. Harm Reduction Journal, Vol. 5, No. 4, 2008; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-53. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1094043

Robert S. Hogg

Simon Fraser University ( email )

8888 University Drive
Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6
Canada
778.782.7629 (Phone)

Eric F. Druyts

B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS ( email )

608 - 1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 1Y6
Canada
604.806.8477 (Phone)

Scott C. Burris (Contact Author)

Center for Public Health Law Research, Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States
215-204-6576 (Phone)
215-204-1185 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.phlr.org

Ernest Drucker

Montefiore Medical Center ( email )

111 East 210th Street
Bronx, NY 10467
United States

Yeshiva University - Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus
1300 Morris Park Avenue
Bronx, NY 10461
United States

Columbia University - Mailman School of Public Health

600 West 168th St., 6th Floor
New York, NY 10032
United States

Steffanie A. Strathdee

University of California, San Diego – School of Medicine, Division of Global Public Health ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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