The expansion of the penal system has been one of the most dramatic trends in contemporary American society. A wealth of research has examined the impact of incarceration on a range of later life outcomes and has considered how the penal system has emerged as a mechanism of stratification and inequality in the United States. In this article, we review the literature from a comparatively new vein of this research: the impact of incarceration on health outcomes. We first consider the impact of incarceration on a range of individual outcomes, from chronic health conditions to mortality. We then consider outcomes beyond the individual, including the health of family members and community health outcomes. Next, we discuss mechanisms linking incarceration and health outcomes before closing with a consideration of limitations in the field and directions for future research.


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