Probation disproportionately affects the health outcomes of Black Americans
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Reviewed by Danielle Ellis, B.Sc., Medical News
“Mistrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful,” warned Friedrich Nietzsche more than a century ago.
Instead, the impulse to punish appears to have grown more and more powerful in the U.S criminal justice system. Annually, more than 9 million people a year in the U.S. are arrested, and on any given day roughly 2.3 million are incarcerated, representing a 500% increase in the prison and jail population since 1980 (compared to a 46% increase in the population over the same time).
This level of incarceration has many consequences, including a direct impact on public and individual health. Contact with the criminal justice system has been associated with a number of poor health outcomes, including hypertension, depression and substance abuse disorders, as well as poor mental health, obesity and accelerated aging.
New findings published in the Journal of Criminal Justice now suggest that contact with the criminal justice system, particularly probation and probation in combination with incarceration, disproportionately affects the health outcomes of Black Americans.
Why is probation so bad?
“It’s incredibly stressful,” Niño said. “And that chronic stress of constantly having to think of how I’m going pay my probation fee, how I’m going to have to take urinalysis, I have to be here, I can’t be here. And then also coupled with all of the other stressors that come with social life most certainly impact their health differently than it does other groups.”
He also emphasized that the majority of people under correctional control in the U.S. are on probation, but very little is actually known about the health consequences of it.
Exoneration can also be traumatic.
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