Former prisoners are at high risk of death after release, especially during the first two weeks of freedom, a research paper concludes.
“Interventions are necessary to reduce the risk of death after release from prison,” a group of doctors said in a January 2007 manuscript published by the National Institutes of Health.
The first two weeks indicate the risk of death is 12.7 times higher for ex-inmates than it is for other state residents.
The stress of reentering society has been proven as enormous and, in fact, more overwhelming a task than being in prison, the paper concluded, based on data on Washington state prison releases.
Obtaining housing, jobs, transportation, healthcare, acclimating and re-acquainting into the family structure for most former inmates can prove to be a living nightmare.
At the end of 2004, more than 3 percent of adults in the U.S. were in jail, on probation or parole. High mortality rates have also been noted in European and Australian studies concerning former inmates with histories of drug abuse.
“Interventions are necessary to reduce
the risk of death after release from prison”
Women have a much higher rate of death than men do after release from incarceration. Cocaine was the largest contributing factor for overdoses, then heroin, meth and alcohol. The second leading cause of death overall was cardiovascular disease. Homicide (mostly from firearms) came in third. Suicide, cancer and motor vehicles were also important contributors in this survey.
Death from violence, unintentional injury and a lapse in treatment of chronic conditions are also major factors for former inmates after release.
The transition from prison to community intervention programs including halfway houses, work release, drug treatment, education on overdoses and preventive care to modify cardiac stress could help lower these risk factors.
Improving access to intensive medical and mental health care case management after releasing inmates could also benefit society by increasing public safety and reducing recidivism in the long term, the paper said.
The Washington state Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Death Index and the Online Data for Epidemiological Research systems of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used to produce these comparisons of released inmates between July 1999 and December 2003.