Black men are half as likely to die at any given time if they’re in prison than if they aren’t, suggests a new study of North Carolina inmates reported by Reuters. The black prisoners seemed to be especially protected against alcohol- and drug-related deaths, as well as lethal accidents and certain chronic diseases. The pattern didn’t hold for white men, who on the whole were slightly more likely to die in prison than outside, according to findings published in Annals of Epidemiology.
“Ironically, prisons are often the only provider of medical care accessible by these underserved and vulnerable Americans,” said Hung-En Sung of John Jay College of Criminal Justice., who was not involved in the study. It involved about 100,000 men between age 20 and 79 who were held in North Carolina prisons at some point between 1995 and 2005. Sixty percent of those men were black.