Fascinating, if true:

Inmates in state prisons are dying at an average yearly rate of 250 per 100,000, according to the latest figures reported to the Justice Department by state prison officials. By comparison, the overall population of people between age 15 and 64 is dying at a rate of 308 a year.

White and Hispanic prisoners are dying at slightly higher rates in prison, but blacks more than compensate.

I’d guess that there are three factors at play here:

  1. Three hots and a cot. I’d imagine prison food isn’t the most healthy, but it’s probably more balanced than what a lot of people get outside prison.
  2. Free health care.
  3. Barriers to drug use and reckless behavior. Only 2% die from alcohol, drugs, or accidental injuries.

These numbers are despite a whopping 8% of deaths being due to homicide or suicide.

In an article entitled “The Irrational 18-Year-Old Criminal,” Joel Waldfogel explains that the latest research indicates that the threat of prison time does not deter criminals.

Maybe the 18 year old criminals aren’t so irrational after all…


Category: Courthouse

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2 Responses to Safer Behind Bars

  1. Peter says:

    Note the use of a 15-to-64 age range. Death rates are naturally going to be higher toward the upper end of that range. Prison inmates, in contrast, are found mostly toward the younger, healthier end – prison is basically a young man’s game, with inmates over 50 or even over 40 being relatively rare. If I get more time I’ll try to go a Google search to get more specific numbers.
    In addition, inmates who develop serious illnesses often are released early on compassionate grounds, though I don’t know if there’s any way to get hard numbers on this.

  2. trumwill says:

    You make a very good point. I didn’t realize that prisons were so bereft of older people. I figured those that were there through their 20’s would end up back there for want of money and lack of marketable skill.

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