Georgia State professor found link between imprisonment and early death

A recent study conducted by Professor William Pridemore, Georgia State criminologist, revealed former male prisoners are twice as likely to die prematurely than man who have never been imprisoned, according to a May 13 university press release.

The study titled “The Mortality Penalty of Incarceration: Evidence from a Population-based Case-control Study of Working Age Males,” was conducted using empirical analysis. Homicides and drug overdoses were common causes of death.

The study found the stress of being in a prison can weaken the prisoner’s immune system, making them become more susceptible to respiratory disease, tuberculosis and HIV. The study also found they become more susceptible to other infectious diseases as well.

Pridemore said prisons should help to provide prisoners with more healthcare to help combat these mortality rates.

“Specifically prisons actually provide an opportunity for screening and treating a population that might otherwise not have access to or take advantage of healthcare outside the prison,” he said. “Prior to an inmate’s release, prison staff may also act to educate prisoners about care of their illnesses once they return home. This would protect not only the individual but the inmate’s family members and the larger community.”

Pridmore said the study spans the topics of criminology, sociology and epidemiology. The study also spans on public health.

He also said the reasoning behind conducting this study was because he was approached by his colleagues.

“I was later asked by very talented demography and epidemiology colleagues of mine to help analyze data from a carefully executed case-control study they had done to examine premature mortality among men in Russia,” he said. “I did not know it at the time, but they had basic information on history of incarceration for their study subjects. Once I discovered this, I realized I would be able to take advantage of these data to undertake the analysis on incarceration and premature mortality I had wanted to do for a few years.”