1932

Abstract

Mass incarceration is a sociostructural driver of profound health inequalities in the United States. The political and economic forces underpinning mass incarceration are deeply rooted in centuries of the enslavement of people of African descent and the genocide and displacement of Indigenous people and is inextricably connected to labor exploitation, racial discrimination, the criminalization of immigration, and behavioral health problems such as mental illness and substance use disorders. This article focuses on major public health crises and advances in state and federal prisons and discusses a range of practical strategies for health scholars, practitioners, and activists to promote the health and dignity of incarcerated people. It begins by summarizing the historical and sociostructural factors that have led to mass incarceration in the United States. It then describes the ways in which prison conditions create or worsen chronic, communicable, and behavioral health conditions, while highlighting priority areas for public health research and intervention to improve the health of incarcerated people, including decarceral solutions that can profoundly minimize—and perhaps one day help abolish—the use of prisons.

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2023-04-03
2024-06-25
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