Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration

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Bervera, Xochitl
Hairston-Blanks, Starla
Patterson, Evelyn
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Reentry is a process that occurs the moment a person is imprisoned, released from prison, and reintegrates back into society, often without much direction. Given the marginalization of this terminology, we refer to the justice involved population as “returning citizens” given the overwhelming majority of individual’s incarcerated return to their communities. Upon leaving, returning citizens are expected to find housing, employment, and connect with their support system, often with little to no guidance. (Holzer, Raphael, & Stoll, 2003). Incarceration and the collateral damage impact it has on an individual once released is an overarching theme of “what’s next?” On average, within three years of release, roughly 67.8 percent of released prisoner’s recidivated (returned to prison or jail) and within five years of release, 76.6% were rearrested. When individuals continue to return to the correctional system at a rate where over -half, there should be viable solutions created to allow returning citizens to become productive members of their society and be of benefit to their families. How are African-American men going to interact with their partners, families, and if fortunate enough gain employment with a living wage, coworkers and employers when some have been traumatized due to the conditions of prison? How are African-American men to return to their children and foster healthy relationships if their chances of going back to prison are high? Studies show that African-American men would like the opportunity to connect in a social and economic ecological structure, preferably without stigma attached to them as returning citizens and reestablish themselves within their family structure. Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2015 there were 6.5 million adults under correctional supervision in the United States. This includes the number of adults who are incarcerated in federal and state correctional facilities or are currently under probation. Of this population, 1.4 million were men with a disproportionate number being African American who are 5 times more likely to be incarcerated than their Caucasian counterparts. When examining the impact of family reunification and recidivism the literature and research often focuses on motherhood and misses the direct impact of the father/child relationship on reducing likelihood to reoffend. Parental engagement not only has been proven to decrease the likelihood of reoffending, but literature shows that children who share bonds with fathers, even with non-custodial fathers are less likely to engage in delinquent actions and anti-social behaviors. Following research conducted by the Community Voices Division of Morehouse School of Medicine on African American fathers, justice involved populations and recidivism rates; this presentation will focus on the impact of mass incarceration at the intersection of racism, health and justice
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119:23 minutes
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