To request a full copy of any of these studies or for information on scheduling interviews with an expert, contact Arnice Cottom
American Journal of Public Health mass incarceration supplemental issue research highlights:
Solitary confinement harms mental, behavioral health
Half of inmates in solitary confinement show significant symptoms of depression and anxiety, with some suffering serious mental illness and self-harming behavior, a study in AJPH’s January supplement on incarceration and health finds.Researchers interviewed and examined medical records of more than 100 inmates within the Washington State Department of Corrections in 2017 who spent time in solitary confinement. One year later, a follow-up interview of 80 of the inmates was conducted. Researchers used a standard psychological rating scale to measure mental duress.
They found that 19% of inmates exhibited serious mental illness, 22% attempted suicide and 18% attempted self-harm. Half of those in the study showed clinically significant symptoms of depression. In comparison, 9% of inmates in Washington’s general prison system are considered to have serious mental health problems that include self-harming behavior. Ninety-five percent of inmates are eventually released, including those held in solitary confinement, the researchers noted. Consequently, “all members of society have a vested interest in limiting the induction of psychopathology suggested by findings such as those presented here,” they said.
[Author contact: Keramet Reiter, Department of Criminology, Law, and Society and the School of Law, University of California, Irvine, California. “Psychological Distress in Solitary Confinement: Symptoms, Severity and Prevalence in the United States, 2017-2018.”]
Black men experience stress, depression over possible police encounters
Black men often avoid encounters with police because of law enforcement’s history of racial profiling, a new study in a January supplemental issue of APHA’s American Journal of Public Health finds. Police avoidance causes depression and anxiety in black men, especially if they are unemployed, have been formerly incarcerated or both.The study examined self-reported data on police encounters from almost 900 black men in Washington, D.C. Previous studies have shown that black men are often targeted by police, including for stop-and-frisk searches. One study found that black men in D.C. accounted for 83% of police searches, even though they represent a much lower percentage of the district’s population.
The new AJPH study, conducted in 2015-2016, found “significant” stress, trauma and depression among black men ages 18 to 44 regarding the possibility of police encounters. Moreover, interaction between police and the men did not have to rise to aggressive levels or arrest to cause symptoms. Interaction between police and black men needs to be examined from a public health perspective, the researchers said. Social determinants that cause health inequity should be examined.
Meanwhile, police officers should receive behavioral training to reduce implicit racial bias, racial profiling, aggressive policing and fatal shootings of black men, the study said. And policies should be explored that deter people from calling 911 over baseless suspicions regarding a black man or group of black men, the researchers said, as such calls can create volatile encounters between police and the population.
[Author contact: Lisa Bowleg, PhD, MA, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. “Negative Police Encounters and Police Avoidance as Pathways to Depressive Symptoms Among U.S. Black Men, 2015-2016.”]
Bias toward incarcerated pregnant women found
Nurses who work with incarcerated pregnant women would benefit from interventions to reduce negative biases toward their patients, a study in AJPH’s supplement on incarceration and health finds. Nearly 700 U.S. nurses who have cared for incarcerated pregnant women took an online survey in 2017 to gauge their adherence to health care standards. Rather than aggregate the individual responses of nurses, the study generalized from the survey’s results, finding bias against patients.“Incarcerated women’s pregnancy status and impending motherhood conjure deep judgment against them,” the study said, which may detract from meeting professional standards of maternal care.
“Our findings argue for nonpunitive responses to the poverty, mental illness and substance use that bring women into contact with the justice system,” researchers said. “By reducing our reliance on criminal legal responses, we can prevent the effects of incarceration-related stigma on maternal care, prevent incarceration-related maternal-child separation and address the root causes of women’s incarceration.” "About 5% of women are pregnant at the time of their incarceration, the study noted.
[Author Contact: Lorie S. Goshin, RN, PhD, DR, Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing, Hunter College, City University of New York, New York. “Stigma and U.S. Nurses’ Intentions to Provide the Standard of Maternal Care to Incarcerated Women, 2017.”]
Check out the full list of AJPH research papers that will be published online Jan. 22:
- Documenting and Addressing the Health Impacts of Carceral Systems
- Public Health Addresses Police Violence: A Beginning
- Incarceration Harms Health: Homer Venters Book on Rikers Island Jails
- Reframing Mass Incarceration as a Social-Structural Driver of Health Inequity
- Addressing Mass Incarceration to Achieve Health Equity
- Mass Incarceration as a Socio-Structural Driver of Health Inequities
- The Role of Academic Public Health in Reducing Incarceration>
- Training the Next Generation of Researchers Dedicated to Improving Health Outcomes for Justice-Involved Populations
- Reproductive Justice Disrupted: Mass Incarceration as a Driver of Reproductive Oppressions
- Strategies for Expanding and Accelerating Compassionate Release for Persons of Advanced Age or with Life-limiting Illness in U.S. Prisons
- Role of a U.S.-Norway Exchange in Placing Health and Well-being at the Center of U.S. Prison Reform
- The American Public Health Association’s Statement on Addressing Law Enforcement Violence as a Public Health Issue
- The Bard Prison Initiative: Education, Incarceration and Public Health?
- Connecting the Dots Between Mass incarceration, Health Inequity and Climate Change
- Public Health Research, Practice and Ethics for Justice-Involved Persons in the Big Data Era
- Promoting Health Equity and Criminal Justice Reform: The Louisiana Experience
- An Overlooked Crisis: Extreme Temperature Exposures in Incarceration Settings
- Policy Determinants of Inequitable Exposure to the Criminal Legal System and their Health Consequences among Young People
- A Multilevel Approach to Understanding Mass Incarceration and Health: Key Directions for Research & Practice
- Conducting Health Research in Carceral Systems: Considerations and Recommendations
- Psychological Distress in Solitary Confinement: Symptoms, Severity and Prevalence, United States, 2017-18
- Barriers to Health Care for Latino Youth During Community Reentry after Incarceration, Los Angeles County 2016-2018
- Family Member Incarceration, Psychological Stress and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Mexican Women (2012-2016)
- The Effect of Health Insurance on Healthcare Utilization in the Justice-Involved Population: Evidence from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 National Survey of Drug Use and Health Surveys
- Racial/ethnic Differences in Drug- and Alcohol-related Arrest Outcomes in a Southwest County from 2009 to 2018
- Stigma and US nurses: Intentions to Provide the Standard of Maternal care to Incarcerated Women, 2017
- Incarceration and number of sexual partners after incarceration among vulnerable US women, 2007-2017
- County Jail Incarceration Rates and County Mortality rates in the United States,1987-2016
- Exposure to the American Criminal Legal System and Well-being: A 2018 Cross-Sectional Study
- Employment and Health Among Recently Incarcerated Men Before and After the Affordable Care Act (2009-2017)
- Incarceration Rates and Incidence of Sexually Transmitted Infections in U.S. Counties (2011-2016)
- Quantifying the Restrictiveness of Local Housing Authority Policies Towards People with Criminal Justice Histories, United States 2009-2018
- Mass Incarceration and Subsequent Preventive Health Care: Mechanisms and Racial/Ethnic Disparities
- Exposure to Police and Client Violence Among Incarcerated Female Sex Workers in Baltimore City, Maryland, 2016-2017
- Negative Police Encounters and Police Avoidance as Pathways to Depressive Symptoms among U.S. Black Men, 2015-2016
The table of contents for the supplemental issue will be online at https://ajph.aphapublications.org/toc/ajph/110/S1.
The articles above will be published online Jan. 22, at 4 p.m. ET by AJPH.
These articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. AJPH is published by the American Public Health Association and is available at www.ajph.org.
Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Arnice Cottom at APHA. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions Department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single-issue access is $30, and online single-article access is $22 at www.ajph.org. For direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email us.
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