A recent study, analyzing mortality rates and causes between prisoners and the general population has found that black males are half as likely to die at any given time than black males outside prison. Specifically, black prison inmates were 30-40 percent less likely to die of heart-related problems or cancer than if they were outside of prison.
Why? As was reported at reuters.com the cause appears to be related to the availability of health care:
Less than one percent 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.
“What’s very sad about this is that if we are able to all of a sudden equalize or diminish these health inequalities that you see by race inside a place like prison, it should also be that in places like a poor neighborhood we should be able to diminish these sort of inequities,” said Evelyn Patterson, who studies correctional facilities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.
As noted by study author Dr. David Rosen, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:
“For some populations, being in prison likely provides benefits in regards to access to healthcare and life expectancy”
But before you get too excited, he added this sobering comment on some of the negative aspects of imprisonment in an email to the reuters.com reporter:
“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.”
So, in the eyes of Dr. Rosen, apparently being in prison has it’s pros and cons.
Let’s not forget the man who reportedly robbed a bank to get much-needed, potentially life-saving medical attention, yet failed to either steal enough money to secure a felony charge or to go down the street to a free clinic that would have provided him the care he needed at no cost. It seems, Mr. Verone, the first-time bank robber had a plan – after a series of mis-steps he made the calculated decision to rob the bank, go to prison for three years, and then retire in Florida on his social security benefits… He reportedly already went condo shopping before he pulled his big heist.
Unfortunately, his un-armed robbery of exactly one dollar may not provide him all the ‘benefits’ he planned on, since his robbery wasn’t a robbery (in legal terms), but merely larceny – a lesser crime with a much smaller penalty. Mr. Verone has said he would consider being a repeat offender to ensure he gets all the medical treatment he needs.
reuters.com: Black men survive longer in prison than out: study
wcnc.com: Man seeking health care robs bank for $1